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tv   2014 Harlem Book Fair  CSPAN  July 13, 2014 12:00am-6:31am EDT

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married 1862 at the school for peasant children to find more effective ways to teach them. . .
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he was definitely an engaging teacher and as you mentioned his experiments influence a lot of people including -- including you. [inaudible] >> this is a bit of a follow-on and i'm still trying to formulate what is probably a very elementary question but you talk about all the research you did and obviously he mixes in real historical characters with his primary fictional characte characters. was he primarily using fiction to illuminate history and historical forces or using history to illuminate human nature? >> yes and yes.
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[laughter] i mean that's a huge question. one of the criticisms that this book has received is that tolstoy intentionally distort historical facts for his own purposes so for instance he creates in the character could to save us a far more salt of the earth kind of character than he actually was. he was apparently much more widely, much more questionable in terms of his morals so historians have accused the full story of using history and distorting it for his own ends. i don't know what i think about that. because the fact is that ultimately this is a fiction and his goal was not just to write a
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history but to illuminate life and human nature and so i think he was after something bigger and even mentions it in the introduction to a draft of the novel. he's after something bigger than writing about history. he wants to write about what he calls the truth and truth the truth requires imagination. it requires a little bit of playing around with the facts of reality and putting them together in a different more imaginative way and apparently he was successful because during world war ii soviet soldiers were given copies of boring piece to read and they claimed, many claim to be more moved, this was during hitler's invasion of russia, they claim to be more moved by tolstoy's description a war than the actual war for her taking place before their eyes and they are in quotations to that effect. there's something about tolstoy's ability to take take reality and made it even more real than reality.
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>> will my question is somewhat related to the american civil war. are you familiar with tolstoy's comments about abraham lincoln and i was curious what your take is on that? >> i am familiar. what are some specific ones? >> a best-selling book about abraham lincoln and on the inside cover i am paraphrasing but tolstoy said that something to the effect of the moonlight of alexander, napoleon and caesar pao in the sunshine of lincoln in that lincoln is not a great and universal character who will live forever, and greater than all presidents combined and greater than his
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country and he also told the story i believe to the "new york post" one day and i guess meeting with kazakhstan they have asked him to talk about great leaders and he talked for two or three hours in the opposite of this poor peasant stood up and said will you still haven't told us about the greatest leader of all time the greatest general of all time in his famous lincoln and he lived in a faraway land called america. at the time people thought he just made that part up. >> that i had heard that the other thing she said before, never heard that so thank you. i know teddy roosevelt had a lot to say about tolstoy and tolstoy had some things to say about teddy roosevelt which was a very different era in american history but tolstoy wrote letters to american thinkers and intellectuals at the time urging them to rise up against the imperialist ecosoc teddy roosevelt in the late or
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early -- late 1800's early 1900s and teddy roosevelt for his part had some problems. teddy roosevelt was very conservative and most of his comments were directed toward on herself not toward tolstoy who is the adults are some novel so that's an interesting dissertation right there. roosevelt and tolstoy. the legacy goes on. one more question. in the mac. [inaudible]
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>> amazing. the perfect book for that trip. i knew teddy roosevelt wrote war and peace but i didn't know he specifically took a copy of war and peace with them when he was on one of his cowboy expeditio expeditions. and knott. [inaudible] and knott. >> was it anna karenina or
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warren peace? it should have been worn peace. okay. if knott [inaudible] and knott. >> i love historians. i didn't know all of these details. but war and peace would be the perfect book to take with you on an expedition like that and i think even more perfect than war and peace because it's awfully heavy for your next trip you need to take a copy of give war
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and peace a chance. [applause] >> if you would mind folding up your chairs. the books are available at the front. booktv with live from in 2014 harlem book fair which is held every year the new york public library's schomburg center for research in black culture. you can watch them all some multicultural book publishing, the black arts movement and more. first a discussion on the state of african-american literature with mailaika adero.
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>> good morning everyone. good morning. my name is max rodriguez and i am founder of the harlem book fair. i would like to welcome you. [applause] thank you. i would like to welcome you to our exploration, our play, our conversation about books and authors and culture and what is possible for us as a community, as an american community. i would like to thank our host a schomburg and thank our partner columbia university school of the arts for engaging, taking on and supporting the harlem book fair and creating an awareness of literature, letters he specifically into the african-american community but certainly nationwide. this year and every year,
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forward, we have taken on a theme. there is always a question in these conversations of who am i, where am i, where my going and how did i get here? their size that conversation at home for us and we have an answer for palm. the theme of this years book fair is global as we all are. and the book fair from this point forward will reflect that. we started with an event yesterday at columbia university are first annual fiction festival where we featured caribbean writers. we are going to expand that to include both caribbean writers and writers of the african ds for a threw out so the book fair will look like all of us from wherever we may hail from the global that we are. i would like to introduce our
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partner, brother khalil mohammed director of the schomburg center. [applause] >> thank you very much max and i want to congratulate you on putting together yet another harlem book fair. i know people have come from near and far to have their annual fill of the work of great artists and writers, scholars and leaders in our community and we certainly want to applaud you for continuing to bring them here and to bring literacy to life so let's give max rodriguez a round of applause. [applause] i also want to thank c-span, booktv in particular for continuing to support this event as a media sponsor. it certainly helps to share the good news that happens here around the country and in my
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travels i've meet many people who know about the harlem book fair even though they have never been here because they have seen it on television so we are grateful to c-span for being here and for our c-span audience for tuning in. i also want to before i say a few things about the schomburg center in general for those of you who are new to the center for the first time i also want to acknowledge that we have lost some literary greats in the past few weeks. they are dr. mai angelo. [applause] walter dean myers. [applause] and although she was not known so much for putting pen to paper than bringing words on paper to let the incomparable actress ruby dee. [applause]
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for dr. angelo and for ruby dee they hold a special place in the heart of this institution which gives me a chance to tell you a little bit about us. this center is approaching its 90th year. it is deleting repository for the preservation, the interpretation and collection of materials related to the global black experience. it begins with a very headstrong and ambitious afro-puerto rican named alfonso schomberg. arturo alfonso schomberg. it's early for me still on a saturday morning. he arrived here in 1890s committed to documenting the contributions of black people around the world have made to world civilization and it was that collection beginning in the 1890s that arrived here as part of the new york public
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library system a branch at 135th and lenox avenue representing about 5000 items that began the corporate collection later named for arturo schomburg and to this day we continue the legacy laid before us by buying books from all over the world. we have something like 400,000 volumes. every book that we have purchased is still here including the ones that he brought with him back in 1925. we also are part of the infrastructure that makes up african-american studies and africana studies. there are very few scholars who produce knowledge works in scholarship literary analysis even for artists who were writers and poets do not consult the schomberg collections. it is that important. davis baldwin once famously wrote that growing up here in harlem he made his way to this library and read every single book for four decades beginning in the 1920s the great poet
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and writer langston hughes was close friends at the early traders including arturo schomburg. we have many first editions of his find by langston hughes as well as the as well as the university. hughes spent four decades using this library and remains with us in perpetuity and thus again you don't know his cremains are buried in the floor of the hms you walk into this auditorium. for someone like ruby dee who was just not a place of literary engagement but also place them for inspiration for those who might find their voice not in what they wrote but how they communicated. and so back in early 1940s something like -- something called the american theater was born as a repertory company a place that would incubate black theater and in that moment a young ruby dee, a young sidney poitier, a young harry belafonte
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made their way to the hundred and 33rd street branch or the public library and so began history making. our connection to her is from the very beginning. many years later dr. angelou moved here to harlem in the 1950s before she went off to ghana and at that moment she was part of the harlem writers guild including john killian julia mayfield, so many others who depended upon the library so they could produce works of literature and for that reason our connection to dr. angelou lasted many decades and she became a national membership chair in the early 2000 since both your many times, one of the most profound thing she said was that libraries were like rainbows. rainbows that showed up in a cloud as a sign that whatever storms and troubles one was in the midst of a new that there
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was a way out, that there was hope and optimism just this symbol as a rainbow in the midst of a storm. she had a very deep connection to this library and for that reason we have her papers. they are in a pop-up display in the lobby so please do take a moment to see them. so that's just the tip of the iceberg of what the schomburg center is represented over many many decades. we continue to be a pillar of the harlem community, a harlem community for black america, for the global black experience so pleased that this is your first time dealt making her last. please bring others with you. make sure that young people have a coming-of-age experience. this is a place of cultural renaissance in engagement, a place to embrace our collective cultural heritage. there is no america without black people so we are truly for everyone. [applause] and without so i'm going to move out of the way and bring back
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max rodriguez who will be part of an introducer next panel. thank you for being with us. they're sick terrific motown show in the gallery. please don't miss it. thanks for being with us. [applause] >> so you see we are well steeped in history and that is very important but also at the harlem book fair the project began what is possible. given that which we have been given what is it that we are charged to do? what is our responsibility so that the harlem book fair our conversation is where books read culture, what does that look like? yes they are books but what is that nomar looked like an conversation? what does that book on hip-hop culture look like? what does that book on fashion look like on a runway outside
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with the other exhibitors at the book fair? we not only want to talk about books, we know that where we live is really our experience. we live and we survived because we know who we are. this is the conversation that i call an outdoor book party. so thank you so much for coming. i have the honor and privilege of introducing a dear friend, a colleague, a professional, someone who has through intellect and intuition and sheer willpower has worked and made her mark through publishing. her name is mailaika adero. she is the vice president and senior editor of a tree of books and she's a renaissance woman. a dancer. she is an artist and in her
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current, and her current effort she has a new magazine. so she knows to play in the space affords. she's going to talk to us today about the state of lack publishing. not an easy conversation to have. we are both challenged and presented with the opportunity of digital publishing amber needs all of that is telling the right stories to the unique market. what is in all of that? malaika will tell us. malaika, please. [applause] >> good morning, good morning, good morning. it's great to see everybody he here. the harlem book fair is one of my favorite book events one
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because it's in than ever that i live and so it's easy for me to get here. the other as you heard from dr. mohammed and as you heard from max rodriguez is the setting here. dr. mohammed talked about arturo schomburg who laid the foundation here as a black bibliophile for this collection, for the center, this depository that is so important not just for us in this community but in the world to be built. dr. mohammed's leadership in the family of the schomberg are the beacon for the legacy that our tarot schomburg, james baldwin are recent literary giants who you named the recently passed on, maya angelou and also mary
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brockett, jayne cortez. there have been too many who have passed on recently but they left us a legacy and they left us in charge and they left us a body in the lessons and instructions are just for us to pay attention to that now. and carry on. i was flattered by max's invitation to make this talk and he calls me up and just says so casually i would like for you to talk about the state of black literature in 15 minutes. unlike why? first of all the one state, what are we talking about? black literature and of course language is important to me and before i could even, first of all i asked him for a couple of days to think about it and how was i going to talk about this thing we call black literature,
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this thing we call publishing particularly at this time when it's so complicated and there are so many issues. there are so many breakthroughs. there is so much extraordinary work. there are so many problems. so what exactly will i be talking about? well, i will be talking about black people meaning people of african descent here, writing and publishing primarily in america and the rest of the world. he and i are in the same page to think of global i am. it is how i think and i think most of the people around me and that is how we need to be thinking more in a systematic fashion in order to reach more people and touch more people and advance our culture and heal the
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world really. so i can't think of it as a single state. it's more like the world of storytelling because that is what it's about. i want to try to do a few things in this introductory talk. thank goodness there will be more people speaking after me who can continue the conversation but i want to talk about, a bit about the conditions in which storytellers work. i want to raise questions and issues concerning readers and reading in general. i would like to point out some important things to know about how books and even products are now published and distributed and how you can learn more and keep up with this all too often they hidden treasures right in our midst midst.
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he now but will new work that is available that we often don't know anything about. at least someone who has worked in publishing for decades. i will forgive him for reminding me of how old i am in this business. for the last dozen years i have signed up authors and edited in managed book products for a chat books at simon & schuster. that's my wage earning job. i also work in community producing programs that brings storytellers to audiences and to readers. i write and publish independent of my corporate ties. i have done this all of my working life. i have done this because i love it. you know, i love hearing stories and telling stories not only a book for him and lyrics and
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rhythm and melody and acting out on stage and danced and painted and told on the front porch or on the stoop, on television and film. everybody does. this is the most profoundly and uniquely human thing that we do. is tell stories, hear stories. it's how we defined ourselves. it's how we process and make sense of life. i just decided to do it to make a living doing it. i had many people helped me along the way in figuring out how to make a living at it but it was my family who got that story. it was my family who taught me the many ways that reading and writing are important and fundamental in our lives. i great grandmother told me stories when she would lay me
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down at night before bed. she would tell me strange stories about our baby and brer rabbit. i thought she made the stories up herself. i didn't care about the folklore until many years later. my great-grandmother was born in the late 1800's and passed away in the 70s. she told me real-life stories and she told me other made up stories. she told me how her community and her family and how she lived and survived. i've heard stories about places in the east tennessee earlier in the 20th century called gun town and brown found. i know more about slaughtering aholic then i need to know because my great-grandmother. my uncle joe read aloud to me the lines of shakespeare that were my high school homework assignment. he was an actor.
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he made no money at it but he was also an adjunct teacher at knoxville college and an x-ray technician for his day job. it was he who introduced me to the work of james baldwin and it was james baldwin when pressed on my mind parliament and new york, a place that decades later i would migrate to. writing and reading were valued in my family and in my communi community. books were valuable and necessary in our home not just the bible but encyclopedias, histories and biographies and jet and "ebony" magazine. my family knew the importance of us understanding the world around us, to see the world even if we love her -- never left knoxville, tennessee. books made that possible. to generally understand black
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america america and put us at the core of our literary tradition and our culture you had to know and remember that we were denied the right to read and write for so long. that was the way enslavement was enforced, to deny us that tool. we figured that out quick and those of us, and many of us rather risk their lives, our physical lives to learn how to read because we knew that it would save our lives and be the key to freedom. i am very grateful and inspired by the phenomenon we saw last year with 12 years a slave and how that book published in 1841 just reappeared and came back to us in the form of a film. and renewed people's attention to a beautifully written book,
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1841 we were publishing. we have had a literary tradition beforehand and we have had one since then so we have many reasons to celebrate. i am reminded of a famous quote of tony morrison that goes something like the genius of black people is what we do with language. i believe that. no matter whether we are manipulating language and telling stories for play or for serious business we have demonstrated time and time again that we can spin language into art. darnell hurston and how she describes sessions on front porches of homes and shops in her town of eatonville. think the stories that you hear again in the streets of new york and in the suburbs and on the playgrounds and that your dining room table. think of new york city's 20th and 21st century wordsmith,
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that late sake to sending out of the politically told the stories out of bronx and harlem and his metaphorical 51st dream state. among our greatest wealth has been our writers and their most enlightened and inspired people have read them deliberately and often. with reading now being so much at our fingertips even with advances in technology, and computers and all, we still don't have the access to great work particularly contemporary work that we should and that's because this black world of literature existed in a larger ecosystem. you know it exists and an ecosystem and environment of mainstream education, of publishing is big business, the
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marketplace, the retail market. we are represented there but we are not well served their. we don't show up up in a matrix of some people would say the way you should and we have got to do that. we have got to do something about that. even with expert researchers knowing and concluding that we in fact do read. there was a pew research study in the media not too long ago that stated or concluded that the most likely person in america to be reading a book at any given time is a black female. but you wouldn't necessarily get that from how publishers choose to use their promotion dollars and publicity resources. we do read. i have a good job you know.
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i've worked in publishing since the 80s. i am lucky. i work hard and make a living but the side effects of that haven't always been good. it can be stressful. the cultural workplace is often clashing with the culture that defines me personally. i experience like every other professional and corporate america. too often the best that i have to offer intellectually and creatively goes untapped even in the places that i work for think they want to get everything out of me. sometimes they don't even know what it is that i have two bring to the table. it's the same thing with you as leaders. so to that degree we have got to push for more diversity. we have got to push for more diversity in the ranks of people
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working in publishing, working in media. we have got to encourage our schools to teach the skills that we need to learn how to better read, how to better think, how to express ourselves. i learned some of the skills of publishing working with independent presses in the 70s. i worked at a place called the institute of the black world in atlanta, georgia. i was first a work study student and then a full-time employee. it was there that i learned the fundamental skills of production and editing. i was even taught to work in offset printing press. i've managed mail campaigns. then in 1980 i attended attended the macroclass at howard university book publishing institute. sadly that program only lasted a
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half dozen years but if any college and university this leaders have historical black colleges is linked to this broadcast and i encourage you and even plead to you to consider that the skills of publishing and media need to be solidly incorporated an olive our schools. one of the best things that happen with hbcu and the time that i was in school and undergrad school in the 70s were the founding of independent radio stations read we have a whole generation of people who found careers in media as a consequence and serve the community. it was a way for students and the community to interact. we need to revive that. we need to extend that to publishing. howard university press i understand is not active
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anymore. we need to bring that back in every school that we control and to have a press i think is fundamental. we can learn how to publish. we can develop independent businesses. we can be entrepreneurial more easily than ever. the technology does allow that these days, desktop publishing, self-publishing. distribution is a problem but we need to come up with their own systems of distribution. our own systems of reaching our own people. on line shopping is convenient and efficient when you know what you want but there's no way to find out what is new out there and you cannot depend on algorithm to tell you what you should be interested in. you have to inform the algorit algorithm, created for yourselves. our great booksellers have been
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leaders, cultural leaders in our communities. our stores have been more than stores. they have been cultural centers for us. but i'm all set to operated liberation bookstore just down the road on my next avenue has passed on but she is remembered for bringing character to this community and providing a service that was educational and spiritual and sustained the community. the bookstores in atlanta and detroit, black world books in knoxville tennessee the store i grew up in why had one of my first jobs. they are gone but they need to be remembered and they need to be remembered as models for what we can make happen now in the 21st century. via amalia bookstore in atlanta is still in business. hue-man bookstore is in business operating on line and doing
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special events but as troy johnson a founder of african-american literary book club at can tell you we have lost most of the bookstores that we had beaten just six years ago. in this vacuum nothing has replaced that. we have to do better than that. fantastic work is being written and published and it's going unnoticed. it's not only the work of self-published people that are going unnoticed but even published by companies like my own. publishing people have to stop thinking that diversity in achieving diversity is like aerospace science, you know. we have gone to mars. there are ways in which we can
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effectively include and bring everybody marginal communities included, to the center of the business that we do. they need to form alliances with black organizations, other black professionals to hear us, to respect us. blacblack literature lives. black writers and authors as i have said before that the people at senate here, are doing extraordinary work. i'm going to name some of the names and i will only be scratching the surface but i have to name some of these names just in case you are thinking of who you should buy and consider next time. bernice mcfadden, colson whitehead emily robitaille, victor malveaux gina mcelroy hansen martha selby veronica chambers elizabeth nuñez, elizabeth alexander. these are people who have won
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the highest literary prizes. these are people who have been bestsellers. proclaimed, jeffrey renard alan has a new wonderful novel out. steven barnes, juneau diaz, fare adjustment griffith. their debut novelists marcus gilby julian royce. do the blessings of technology thousands of other people saw that it then on line. jessica care moore matt. i'm excited for the role that film is played in the last year in bringing books back to our attention. i mentioned before 12 years a slave but there's also the butler based on an article written by bill haygood.
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one of my colleagues at a trio with her new imprint published that book. with other exciting titles coming fourth. i work with an array of writers, some i have already mentioned. making her own for a bringing books and films together, the addicted feature film tied to her first novel will be released in october. he has the new novel as well. the cultural workers who are supporting and promoting these brilliant writers. people who are publishing literary journals, and creating book
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just pay attention and make the effort to find out what is going on and what new work is out here. don't just necessarily come to you. communicate with publishers. it any bet he is on twitter and facebook these days. if there is something you want to read, if there is something you think is important for book publishers to do, let us know. atria books is on twitter. i'm on twitter. facebook, pinterest, instagram.
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these are solid and good modes of communication for particularly the african-american community, the black community locally and globally, to communicate. avoid the temptation of pitching new books on line but to write me and let me know what you would like to read and read and read and read. now even scientists are concluding and showing us how reading two young children, us reading ourselves affects our brains in a positive way. it's healing. it's not just recreation. it's not just something that you do when you are in school. i read a statistic that more than 40% of people don't read books once they graduate from school. we have got to do better for ourselves. we just need a quiet place to relax for blood pressure to
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reduce. read, read, read. one area where you won't get much argument from people across cultural lines is around the whole question of education and how important it is. generally when we are talking about that, we are talking about the marginalized in the poor and how we need education to survive and thrive. with the leadership needs education too. the litany of education to matt. what better way to come to some kind of understanding of that other person, that other culture who has that other practice than to read a book. so to my publishing colleagues, to my community leaders, read a book by a black person, by a caribbean, by an african. that is the way that we are going to heal each other and build these bridges and rebuild society. i really appreciate your patience and your attentiveness
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and have a great time at the fair and thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> we knew the moment came the first morning when reagan and gorbachev met. we were sitting in a bubble. bubble is a room within a room. it is totally secure and it has
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big latches on the outside so that it can't be bumped. bubbles generally are pretty big and only half the ones for the arms control talks we could have five people in a bubble. in reykjavík they ordered the smallest bubble ever because nothing ever happened in iceland. we had eight of us sitting side-by-side right next to each other folding grey chairs, the kind of walmart would be ashamed to sell and cheap as could be and all squeezed in almost knee deep from side to side. so we are in this bubble and scholz is telling us what he knew about the first meeting. all of a sudden the latch opens a, that door swings open, we look up and there is a
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seven-foot eight-inch secret service agent which says the president of the united states. we did what any red-blooded american would do. we all stood up and where all belly to belly in us. reagan looked at all of a sudden says this would make a great aquarium is sure to fill up with water. we had an eight seater there and there were nine of us. there was the chief of staff of the white house. there was the secretary of state. there was the national security adviser and the arms control director. i knew that if i was going to stay by god and in knew i was going to stay. what i did was offer the president my chair and i said sit right here mr. president and i hit the ground. i was on the floor and meanwhile this gigantic secret service guy had latched the door once again and so we were in there. it was a great moment because
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reagan cracked a few jokes and then said gorbachev is really serious about doing things. we said in what way? the kind of tried to tell us the approach the gorbachev was taking and we sat there for 30 minutes. i was gently leaning against the presidential knees and we knew that oh god our assessment was wrong. the intelligence was wrong. this was going to be the real thing. at the new york public library schomberg center for research in black culture and in a few minutes we will continue our live coverage of the 2014 harlem book fair.
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>> when the islamic revolution hit they were cut off from the west in part because of religious reasons. the koran had some problems with using dead bodies and because the west shortly after imposed sanctions. they didn't have the resources, the technology or the infrastructure to really continue with deceased organ donation so they decided to focus on living donation. so the simpler sort of old-fashioned way of dealing with the transplant shortage. this wasn't as irrational as you may think because 80 to 90% of people who need organs need kidneys so they focused on the largest part of the population that needed help while we focus on everybody at the same time
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and we focused on finding the technologies we could to keep organs viable and transport them and do everything we could to get them from cadavers. getting them from cadavers made sense because wife put a living person at risk for a kidney if you can get it from a cadaver? >> important point here was they went into different directions. iran spent 30 years are proving it's living donor program while we spent 30 years concentrating on our deceased organ program. now if you look at today there is a real insight from that result. if you need a heart or a liver better -- in iran if he medically qualified to get a kidney you get one. in the united states out of the 120,000 people who need organs, 100,000 of them need kidneys.
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15 to 20 americans die every day because of they can get a kidney and that's not happening in iran. >> nexa panel on malty cultural book publishing. speedy my name is wade hudson and i'm president and ceo of just us books aimed an independent children's publishing company. my wife sheryl and i started in 1988. we established just us books to address the need for more books that reflect our society's diversity. i will moderate today's discussion. but before we start i would like to pay a little homage to a great writer we lost last week. walter dean myers winner of many of the awards available in
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children and young adult literature produced a body of work that included more than 100 books for children and young adults. he often wrote about younger african-americans in battle troubles in the streets in school and at home, giving them a voice. walter was also in leading advocate for diversity in children's literature. we will all miss this outstanding and wonderful writer and human being. those interested in recognizing walter by making a donation may do so by contributing to two of his favorite causes, the children's defense fund and literacy for incarcerated youth. you can go to the just us books web site at for more information about these two institutions. it was walter's article entitled where the people of color in
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children's books which appeared in a large 2014 issue of "the new york times" that brought renewed focus on the vision lack of diversity in books with children that received the spotlight from time to time. then slid underneath the covers again until another clarion call for changes voice. but walter's article was followed by an on line campaign called we need the first books which took the internet by storm with more than 160 million impressions in just one week. a number of african-american book readers are also undertaking initiatives to address the problem. the lack of diversity issue it seems would not go gently into that good night. today's panel abundantly rich to wealth and multicultural book publishing will examine the need
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of diversity in children's literature but we will do so recognizing the complexities involved. does their panel represents a cross-section of people and organizations that must and do play roles in finding solutions. brian kenney is director of the white plains public library of white plains new york and he is also former editor of school library journal. would you you just raise your hand brian? pat cummings an award-winning author and illustrator. she is seated next to brian. mutiya vision is an independent book publisher publisher that has made inroads into the educational market. vanesse lloyd sgambait is ceo of the literary media publishers
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consultants founders of the african-american children's book projects and she is seated next to brian. and then we have hannah erlich who is director of marketing for lee and low books low books would have been low books one of the nation's independent publishers of books for young people and we have veronica director of a nonprofit organization that connects book publishers and community organizations to provide access to new books for children and young readers particularly those who are in need. now we will start our discussion by giving each panelist a few minutes to share more information about their organization or their company and their program and then we will follow that with some questions and we will ask the ripon -- asked the panel to respond to. we will start with brian. >> thanks. can everyone here may? thanks so much.
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as you mentioned i'm a lifelong library in and two of our core values i think in terms of working with kids are to engage children as readers and a key element of that is to really find books that reflect the diversity of the community that you represent. i began my work as a librarian in the early 1980s and brought the new york and i worked at the brooklyn public library. we were coming out of an optimistic period in publishing and i was lucky enough to work and branches where we had on the shelves burgeoning hamilton, jerry pinkney walter dean myers melzer taylor authors like that previous generations even in the previous decade did not have access to. we thought that would change. walter dean myers in 1986 wrote an essay that said we thought we are going to change the industry. i think that since then the industry has changed but in many ways not espouse or a strongly
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or as comprehensive way as many of us would like. >> yeah thank you brian. vanesse. >> yeah good morning. my name is vanesse lloyd sgambait and i'm the ceo of the literary media and publishing consultant as well as the founder of the african-american children's book product. i sort of stumbled into the world of publishing in the 90s because african-american fiction books i have taken this country by storm and publishers did not have anyone in the house who really understood how the to market and promote these books and my company literary media and publishing consultants was created. we did a lot of work in that area and it was so fascinating to be on the cusp of all the wonderful authors and most were no longer being published. making people understand that reading is a joy in reading.
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subsequently as the publishing industry developed fiction books especially for women, i started to see a void in the world of children's books and 23 years ago i founded an organization called the african-american children's book project. that cold frosty morning also the beginning of a novel over 250 people came to a children's book fair. this past february over 3500 people attended a one-day book event and in two hours we sold over $25,000 worth of books. .. they will come and they will respond. all across this country you see a full lead in books in our community not because people don't want to buy them, they just can't find them.
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i will be talking a little bit about these african-american children's book classics and the success as well as the things we can do as consumers to keep publishers producing great books. >> i am thrilled to be here, this is an excellent resource, when i started in children's book publishing way back, in 1975, everybody that i had as a teacher, everybody around me was telling me it is impossible to get into children's books, you can't break into the field but i was 27 years old and you don't hear those things so i saw every publisher i could see downtown and none of that worked. the council of innovation book 3 children, this is some place that i believe walter started. i had put some work into that
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publication and a publisher or had already been to see called me and said they had a book for me to do, not a book they would like me to consider but they wanted me to do it and i was thrilled and i didn't want to act like a didn't know anything about doing books so when the editor said do you know what you're doing i said yes. i didn't have a clue so i went home and i knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody, i called and said you have to help me out. was extremely generous. one thing i found, i came in on a way of, virginia hamilton and walter and there was a real interest in growing the number of people of color in the children's book field. the images were so low at the time of all the books that would done, people of color were underrepresented. the numbers haven't really changed in all those years, this is 75. i sat on the panel with walter
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dean myers, multi-cultural panel but we were all black and i thought it is not exactly multi. it has changed, people have become more aware of their needs to be diverse city. one thing the walters said that i carried with me always, it is extremely generous. people help each other. uconn always find someone to get into the business or assess your work. one thing walter said it has stuck with me is he wants is books to get in the hands of black teenagers and black kids but it is so important in the hands of white kids. there was an article in the new york times, it is very important to see yourself in books as a child but equally important to see people who are not like you so that you get cal
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>> >> i see people getting published every single year but it is the question getting yourself up to speed. >> thank you. >> good afternoon. i come to publishing i found
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it when my husband and i started to have the family seeking culturally diverse literature i wanted my childrenãto experience in there was the shortage of that in the bookstores. year and i was disappointed with the quantity of blood i could find for my children a and the internet allowed me to find more things that i grew up where my mother taught me to create the world you want to see. my has been a and i were both writers and we decided to create a body of children's books but also differs with the gender and physical abilities that told great stories with that diverse world that we also share in to navigate those but people tend to fear that
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of which they are not familiar with. so we developed a vision works publishing that children's books have sprung from and as an indicator of a few years ago i got my master's with childhood education i have worked with teacher development in the schools and i also created of the idea of workshops to communicate more effectively inefficiently and to create the emotional wellness workshops to allow us to work more cohesive lee in that universe that we all share with vision works publishing. >> i am the director of
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marketing. we are an award winning children's book -- children's book publisher focusing on diversity started 1991 and have been publishing for about 20 years now the biggest multi-cultural publisher in the country. it is family-owned and completely independent that makes us independence from other publishers out there becausecn most at this point are owned by huge companies. because we're still independent it allows us to take risks to publish what we believe is an. over the last 20 years it has paid off in terms of the response we have gotten from parents, teachers, young readers and the major book awards like a caress scott king and other major awards
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handed as great as a small publisher to compete with the children book market like this especially with the diverse book that we create. we began by publishing primarily picture books in we have expanded over time to young adults and middle grade as well with several different imprints one publishes young adult and science fiction and fantasy you may know that traditionally those have been extremely whitewash so we try to add more to that shawn not we have the other imprint that publishes books for classroom use in english and spanish hour next imprint introduces to the culture of asia and our last imprint bilingual spanish
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picture books we also have vietnamese and old range and over time we have just been expanding our definition of what there is a need to fill that need. we have expanded our definition beyond just racial diversity to include with terms of ability, lgbt and we have to and into what people are looking for and we are able to in answer that need as fast as possible with ground-breaking books. one thing that makes a special we have been dedicated to debut-0÷ authors and illustrators of color. they are extremely under represented in publishing over many years if you look it is not getting better.
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and hopefully to help them break into publishing to start a successful career if you look at the 2014 titles we have seven new titles out this year and three of seven are by debut officers in five of the seven are authors or illustrators of color. so we stick to that mission from the beginning. we also have to book awards and our new voice is a ward for picture books and also for young adults we give that contract annually with a cash prize that is one way we try to continue to up the numbers of diverse people working in this field because it is important also diverse authors and
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illustrators telling their stories. we're really in activists company so we try to do is push the conversation for word why don't we have more diverse books and what holds us back? we did a series of graphics illustrating a the lack of diversity because we want people to understand the problem with children's book publishing exist everywhere movies, tv, politics not isolated to our industry in fremont people to be able to think about solutions to these big problems. a and a couple have gone viral picked up by "the new york times" and "huffington post" that we continue to push the conversation and we will continue to do that
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because as other panelists have said the statistics arep)e. they are attracted every year and the numbers have not gone up in over 20 years so i hope five years from now we look at different numbers then what we see in 2014 and for the better. >>. >> good afternoon. i am from a global nonprofit social enterprise to lower the barriers of access for new titles for our kids. we have been around 23 years in that time have distributed over 180 million titles, we work with 130,000 teachers commit educators, a program leads across the country to make sure they
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have access for their kids in the classroom and we are creating that 130,000 member base let you need in the classroom? and what books are kids picking up on the bookshelf? and that laboratory with which the research comes to life than kids tend to pick up books that they see themselves on the cover. that feedback of that base growing by leaps and bounds helps us to work closely with our publishing partners. and headfirst being around 23 years we have strengthened the ability to provide high quality books. we also strengthened the distribution in the market
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solution to make the books accessible. selling not only want and need the books but the organizations that serve have lower budgets, lover infrastructure and we try to work on ways to build capacity the2zz teacher, and after-school programs that we understand for them not only as a desire by how to rework to make it affordable? that works with the publishers to drive down that cost. they were aggregating the voice of the network that says yes to pull that buying power together and why it is so important to have that title. the way we distribute to our
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books and is working with over 90 publishers across the u.s. be receive a high number of donated books each year that we read donate through the national book bank an enterprise that we take the books to differing communities around the country and literally drive to the distribution and pick them up for free. the book banking is a good resource to build a home libraries and summer programs or those that don't meet curriculum but to say there are times we want to teach about dinosaurs and we need access with the specific goal in mind. so that is where we work
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with publishers to have the online resource. with a classroom collection of the title that sits with the curriculum today. >> thinks to each of you know, we know more about the panelist we're ready to start our discussion. we want to focus on sharing answers and solutions not just focus on discussing the problem. with our first panelist we will say this sometimes the issues we address or clear to everyone but that is not the case may be if you are wondering why is it important to have more diversity may be a few
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people are wondering that. my question to you is why is it important to have more diverse books? >>. >> many years ago as a young girl, i attended an elementary school with these journals we would have to stop and dropped to under the desk because the russians were coming. going on for weeks. there were coming from moscow i asked my teacher who are these russians in fire they coming to this small town outside of a suburb of philadelphia? she cannot explain why they were coming so she said go to the library. we have bookmobile we do not
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have a freestanding library. we had a two book allotment and the children laughed at me because i got books on moscow and russia. they said he will never go to moscow why would you want to read about something so stupid? and my dad said nevermind. keeper reading. i started to read books about moscow, paris, rome, five years ago i was in moscow and standing in the red square i started to identify every building in that square. he said how you know, much about my country? i read it in a booker young black girl most men had gone to war came back home and never went anyplace outside a 5-mile radius of this
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every place we went that day with a tour guide he would pull me aside to introduce me to other people to say this is a person who knows something about our country. the response was so positive and i got discounts. [laughter] nothing wrong with that but i use that example to say subsequently been to paris and rome and other foreign countries around the world, but when you know, something outside of your community and opens your eyes to the possibilities. that is why diverse books are important when the little girl walks into the room the little boy knows that and it sets a more positive tone so albert is not seen all the negative images. so what we talk about it is
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important for us as a community to know something about ourselves and read about ourselves. >> anyone else? to make i think that is true we opted talk about diversity with the window in the mirror. of study was done about that the window looks out to other cultures the years sees yourself to be validated. of was reading an essay last spring and was resonated with me he said it is not always about the mirror but sometimes the road map. diversity with kids literature whether kids of color not just finding yourself but what could be possible and in terms of
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that metaphor it was talking about persona and things you could be and try on to become a booking and expand the way youhx concede your life where you might be at the present time. that is another perspective to look at. >> it seems the whole book fair is global the world is getting smaller and even if you don't travel you learn respect to see the little boy in a hoodie to be framed so you don't have to see yourself that way that and i grew up in the military and we lived in japan and germany when i came back i saw an ashtray that was the of buddha and it was so offensive to me you would
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not make it dash straight out of christ on the cross. you lose respect for you learn about that but when you learn about other people and you don't have a fear for them on a dark street. >> directed to you who is responsible to ensure there are more books in the marketplace? are publishers solely responsible but what about booksellers or distributors and what role does market demand play? >> i would say everybody is responsible because everybody is part of the problem. looking at why there are not more diverse books that happens on so many levels. publishing houses staffed primarily by white editors
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of the books they are acquiring or not that divers then people in marketing and sales to believe that don't think diverse book sells then consumers to go to bookstores can find them and don't o buy them and it is a self perpetuating cycle. i feel the responsibility is shared between everyone and publishers have a deep responsibility to fix the problem actively not just to say they believe in diversity but actively going out to look for those diverse manuscripts and publish them to put the marketing power behind them but consumers have an important job. is easy to just buy the books in for interview but with you want to more diverse books you have to seek them out and ask for in sandoval where are the diverse books in your
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collection? or the independent bookstore or use egal publishers or looked out and buy those for your children and give those as a gift as a birthday and support that through your buying power to prove there is a market. everyone can be a part of the solution so what can i do but with marketing diverse books it is a matter to believe there is a market for it. we live in one of the most diverse cities in the world a country where 37 percent is now higher than that. those numbers alone prove there is the market is just a matter of everyone who
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makes those purchasing decisions to see those numbers and believe the market is there if we make them accessible to people. >> when we first or did 2005 people said wide you want to produce multicultural books? people of color don't buy books for bryson via person of color i am looking to buy them i know there is a market. so we just did it. turns out the books we weredw producing are considered character education and children's books that allowed us and we didn't know that to start off with that curriculum to do perserverance and diversity awareness but we have had to create so we bring it to the
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people. to look at these type of materials for their children. i am always excited when i hear parents say i am looking for a birthday presents or for my a curriculum. >> to add it to the conversation many people in that cascade has a responsibility to improve the situation in diverse authors and that first book we also know there is a case to be made for the buyers. who is buying? not only that but combined with the high statistics of
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the population that is a minority 25% are at or below poverty with low-income kids those who are not seen them souls in literature the ceo is passionate about making sure we aggregate the voice so as we continue with national organization social services home visitors to track what people are buying collectively so across the panel working from the publisher to the three publisher to the three year-old who6d another culture we all add
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the pieces to that. >> i just want to add the assumption and especiallymo the african americans don't buy books for their children and it is a myth. people are not buying books for their children nine times out of tin you cannot just walk into the big box store to find affordable books. and many children's books meanie major rich politicians cities the notion that we don't buy books is completely false how many have bought a book for a child in the past year? everyone raised their hand and i am sure if you go or around the country you will find more and more the reason why is accessibility
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we have to chase the dynamics to go to your barnes & noble and ask if i come back next week will you have the list of books? i gave you the hook back there. [laughter] >> talk about the need for more diverse books to the issue what about those that are available? how can we get into the hands of young readers? i know that book fares offer the extremely viable option that what are the other options that we could do to get more books into the marketplace and to read them if they can get them?
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>> one of the things we have been working on for a long time is working with educators because i truly believe educators are a gateway between the books if we can work with children and teachers and librarians to have the books available in classrooms naturally they will find their way into the student's hands. especially now with a common chord being so big teachers are looking for quality in complex text not going to technical but we can get diverse books one to the list and maybe instead of using the same classic year after year written about white authors and white people you can substitute for more diverse books that reflect what is in our
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country. that is one way we can connect our books with kids to educators who are looking for those books. >> for writers and illustrators to be proactive to be the second and third book they are extremely proactive they have websites a market themselves they need to go out to the bookstores constantly showing a new children's books so it is not that hard to get that bookstore engaged if you tell them i will come to a program i will talk gate gets the teachers in engaged because the schools are open to that. it is the creators as well as the publishers.
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>> we also have extended into community programs there are a lot that offer gains during the summer or in the communities in we create workshops in lessons planned around the of books and inspire children that most people belong to a civic social or church organization. if it does not know where to get the books thing go to a library and ask them to prepare a list. and that is how to start to get books into your home. >> following up from the
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perspective we talk about discovery a lot today and we have a real responsibility that we own these books ballot to flee with multiple copy -- copies because chances are people will not become across these books in the bookstore or anywhere else unless the public library and oftentimes they will become buyers once they learned the existence but once there it will not have been. >> with many libraries shrinking many are underfunded i know in urban areas they have closed branches so what type of impact does a lack of money have on the selection of a more inclusive approach? >> you are putting me on the spot.
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[laughter] why guess since 2008 the budget has been negatively impacted for sure. we have up to 50% less buying power. where you're coming back but it is slow but there are arguments why we donny libraries and everything is digital and, etc., etc. lot of that is all spent when you talk about books for kids we are uniquely committed to that looking in my young budget things get cut but the children book budget does not get caught and our role there is unique >>e3 looked at libraries now but time and again how many are buying the books at
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market or low -- but first book is the option to stretch that dollar for program leaders are libraries if we could aggregate that voice with the books they are buying we could do even more with the publishers we have relationships with. sometimes it is bridging knowledge. they are doing what? had we put a first book with the publishing house that we all talk about to build upon the synergy. we all try to do the best we can every day. we will keep coming back and the resources are getting better every time to figure our how do we hold hands in bring the corporate dollars to the table and the sponsorship and for
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libraries whose budgets are getting cut private industry dollars will increase so what is that as well? >> with the on-line presence marketplace how was that fairing? is that doing well? you are making more books available through the marketplace. >> thank you so much. i am ecstatic to share each year the number of books increases the quantity of books we sell increases. we have sold between three and 4 million books per year through the first book marketplace that serious buying power and learning how to use it, the
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contribution were working with harpercollinsv is to bring 600 new titles to the marketplace to reflect the lives of all those we talked about today with the white kids in the low income to have access to those titles. the marketplace continues to grow in record to releasing a the project to allow us to bring more titles to the of marketplace but the average cost of the high-quality paperback book is $2.50. we know from an economic assessment the average cost of the high quality board book is $18.
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talking about the kids that are title one eligible schools with three or reduced lunch in struggling paying rent or getting kids through school and buying books? back to the point the families do reid but the priority that is where first book is unique and positioned to work with other compassionate partners to make sure to bring money to use the schools with grants and matching funds to stretch those book buying dollars. >> would just as a publisher it does make a big difference we were so happy to partner with first book for last year we are still less ball publisher but that was meaningful so what first book does with those big purchase says that
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effectively creates a market it means a lot to publishers and also larger publishers as well it is a good purchase. >> i think these programs are wonderful but i am a strong believer over my 23 years working in the industry and the work we have done in philadelphianba that we as consumers have to begin to buy books to put them back in the home. i don't care how poor you were when i was a kid you had a corner in your home. we have to begin the responsibility realize solely in the feat of the consumer if you don't buy the books close to those that reflect our images because it is wonderful these are happening but everyone has a responsibility to go out to find books that are affordable the more they
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published the more affordable they will become. sold by the paperback but consumers have to buy the books. also mentioned the fact the readied for diverse books there are diverse publishers out there. when the rally cry went out out, i thought to myself so many people were e. mailing me what to of shame. i thought i just did the book fair where consumers stood in lines the books exist you have to make the extra effort and it is in your hands right now. when we walked out of here today don't think they are not out there. come to any of us our web sites. the books are there we need more i don't disagree but
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usa consumer has the full responsibility for continuing the of legacy. >> you make the important point vanesse, but how do we get more people in the community to understand how important it is as consumers to purchase books? are there steps we can take to make that come about? >> if they can bring sexy back they can bring books back. [laughter] [applause] it is marketing you cannot expect books are a commodity the way you buy a pai>g of earrings sort the scarf you have to bring it back to that level. my book fair in philadelphia is very successful in other reason is recreate the hype radio, television, print, pr omotion not donate paid
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advertisements but the editorial aspect everybody thinks they go to any event. when they arrived the books are made out like you would buy a shirt you can visually see we have to change the dynamics of the way they are sold to diverse communities and then we still will have this discussion we have to take the books to the consumer in cannot wait for them to come to us. >> it is not just the diverse communities it is white communities as well perhaps never done a book strictly about being black my books have black children in them but it is up pat for the first time or a lunch box in any child can pick up the book to find one that is relative to them. too many times they will buy one of my books to say i'm
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giving it to a friend and they know they are black but it does not need to me that way. we did duty in the beast but apparently there is not a lot of classics it just will not be that diverse community it has to be everybody read it because it is the good book. people will buy them for their color. >> in particular with low-income families!
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thought the books are expensive period one generation later even though a first book we're driving down the cost to lower the barriers of access but expensive is expensive. in the high outcome of that investment the product of it may be expensive is not as expensive as i thought it was. >> there are 24 books in the series published by scholastic the average cost was $3.99 dealing with african american images to
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deal with traditional things like time, do you eat your vegetables? $3.99 every day issues african americans even if they struggle to pay their bills. you have too presented in a format that they feel comfortable the bookstore can be intimidating for many people. these are the issues we have to address to bring those books back into the home is important. if the kids go to the library they grow readers. he was read to as the child and imprinted reading is something you do. it is part of your life they stop at every 15 minutes old
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city reid said it is bizarre. everybody. at work and the gas station everybody stops at 10:00 to read 15 minutes and i thought good grief. library they learn to read and loved reading those who put books in the hands to say the library and put a booker in his hands and they did in being a writer you have no ideas of ripple effect so if they have grown up blurting you will see that out you can buy that on the street mib the $18 but.
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>> the rule that schools can play to advance diverse book i know principally you're the publisher in to step up to the plate to make a difference and i know you have worked with the schools as well vanesse and share your relationships between schools and diverse literature. >> we have a very big
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country we're all in agreement here every school needs diverse books regardless of the demographics some schools are more open than others but so to put great books in there students' hands and to learn about the world and learn about other people. that hardest teachers are under strain to implement a common core standards0xt so to see with a huge class rooms from a publishing perspective we need to make it easy. when i talked about before looking at the classics to substitute more modern diverse classics for the old ones is a helpful way to
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make easy for teachers but especially with the growth of charter schools lee sage -- we see budget set aside for purchasing books to diversify collections to make it easy as possible so they don't need to do the legwork for is to visit cultural reactor it but if we put the right books into their hands they are receptive. >> we get that feed back all the time to say we have the reading list from last year we keep moving forward that to say have diverse books
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and then to replace that nervousness. and then the teachers then say what is the language i need to use? how do i talk about this title in the cultural way in to do a stir that level of nervousness. other folks have come to the same conclusion to gain their endorsement to update the reading list may be one of the powerful places in to sheet
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in then to link it to the questions in to be confident to use the title. so then we would like to me that bridge. >> to notice a change in terms of distribution in that channel in did in the art city what i mean by that is at 1.there were hundreds of publishers that carry multi-cultural titles and selling thousands. at some point the city closed of the independent distributors now they all come through the mainstream.
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>> we have three distributors. >> and so we have to find a new way to anion happy to say teachers to have multi-cultural classrooms they want to boost self-esteem i think schools could do more to include book publishers invoices and officers of diversity. >> we have a book just published. what do we do to make the folks who will buy this book where, that this book exist?
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>> because book reviews are important also. demographic data every "publishers weekly" on the radio are the hottest radio station in if you want to get to consumers but get on with steve harvey indorse your book i guarantee it would be the overnight success. that is how you reach consumers that is how america sells their products use the same model corporate america uses to sell the book you can i use that to sue those options it is time
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to be proactive. go to the people. >> in the radio station may be one of them and to get closure even in those different marketplaces even now the amazon market place but it is all about promoting and to once again bring it to the people we sell out every time so i know people buy the books but they're just not getting the exposure. >> just to follow up you are right to there is a divide with the consumer and
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institutional markets and if you want to sell you need those reviews with the book lists or whoever because it is a setting process. they need to see this book is well reviewed before it is in the collection of that is challenged to have something to fall back on.'": and us a challenge hitters small publishers it is tougher for them if you don't have that marketing staff to sit down and present your list it is tougher to get those reviews >> with some acquisition they require reviews before they even look at you?
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>> in terms of our books to see those reviews those said to best with that library journal and the book's last those are the big five. those that is harder for those people that of a weird iv book reviews because a lot of where consumers were getting fair reviews. so they're not there any more. so that internet it comes in but to get it to collections you need the print reviews. >> with that authoritative
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sites and always changing. >> so what counts as the professional book review the wine is blurring then let the people did in their pajamas from home is now a respected source. >> but when you try to reach the diverse audience people get so many emails they no longer open them and i say this over and over civic and church organizations are the heart of many commuters.#ds -- communities to say a word like to do a book signing or send you a form to introduce you to my imprinter and scholastic has done that for
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years. and then to get them into the home. >> with the number of community organizations that are stepping up that were lit est. one dash literacy programs the children defense fund they can add more than 125 freedom schools around the country getting books to the people is the key. vanesse, of why do you think your book fair is so successful? what are you doing to make it successful? >> because people love books a round of free stuff that we give away. [laughter] the realities are high and a
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marketing and publicity specialist so i looked at it as a commodity. when the consumer walks in that door the drums are playing, as high in the sense of they are special. the authors and illustrators to do interviews so when people come they automatically look fuller. >> to look for mutiya. they heard the voice is also another thing that is important is to engage corporate america and if a corporate sponsor says a want to be a part of this event with this the route of dollars out to be a part? we buy the books of the
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guest authors that will be there so we want to get thews books into their homes so the only books begin of away are the authors present for the first time they of the book to get a personalized those chase dynamics. . . open the pages. they meet the person who wrote and illustrate ised the book. their name is in the book. and i've had parents come to me, i have a woman who's been coming to my book fair for ten years, and she has $20. we manage to find four books every year for her children because i look for books that are affordable. so again and again, and i though i'm sounding like a broken 45 -- [laughter] you know what that is. [laughter] but we have got to engage the consumer. and we give away posters and bookmarkers, catalogs.
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i'm begging publishers to send he the catalogs because i get charter schools who, unfortunately, brian mentioned to this to me earlier, school libraries have closed. so you don't have that librarian that you could go to in the school and say, look, what's new, what's hot? i'd like to buy a book and have it in my home. so we have catalogs from all the major publishers. and that enables not only parents, but also educators to take those books, those catalogs home and look through them to find out what's out there in the marketplace. so all of these things lead back to the importance of what we're trying to do. we're trying to get people to read. we're trying to get people to find out about themselves. and and i want everybody to know how fabulous, i'm an african-american, how fabulous we are. but it's so important for us to take responsibility for that. >> one of the wonderful things about vanessa -- [inaudible] is that it's been a resource for
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educators to come through, and i can't tell you the amount of charter schools that have ordered our books because we've been a part of, been a part of that children's multicultural children's festival in pennsylvania. and it's ongoing. it's not just the time that you participate, but the word grows, and, you know, the andx+y the movement grows for families and teachers and educators. >> okay. i think we're going to now open it up for questions from the audience. i'm going to invite erica ayala from the children defense fund's freedom school program, and she's going to give us a little information about the freedom school. you have about a hundred and, what, freedom schools around the country? >> we're up to 200 sites around the country. >> whoa. and it's curriculum-based. >> yes. thank you. my name is erica ayala, and children's defense fund has been running the freedom school's -- next summer it will be 20 years of the cdf freedom schools which comes from the history of the mississippi freedom summer and
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the freedom schools of 50 years ago. but we have five main components to the freedom schools. that is parent and family involvement, civic engagement and social action, intergenerational leadership development, nutrition, health and mental health and then the fifth and final which leads to a lot of the things that the panelists have been talking about is high quality academic enrichment. and we do this through our integrated reading curriculum. and be so when we started the panel, we were talking about answers and solutions, and we think that the freedom schools are the answers and the solutions that our communities are looking for. we also talked about windows, mirrors and road maps, and we have a few books that i'd like to share with everyone that i feel really helped to frame the conversation in that way. the first is a lee and low book. it is how we are smart and -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> i see this as a road map. these are stories of people like patsy mink and thurgood marshall
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and tito pen today and how -- puente and how they are smart and used their talents to become professionals. we also have books that are a part of the curriculum that are resources. i talked about the 50th anniversary of the freedom summer, so we have resource books that we use like "freedom's children" where young people can read about the stories of civil rights veterans, but from the time when they were 10, 11, 12, 16 years old, retelling their stories for young people today so young people have, again, a road map and a window into history so 10, 11, 12 and 16 they can make a difference which is our overall theme at the freedom schools. and then finally i wanted to end with a book by the late author walter dean meyers. he is one of our favorite authors at the children's defense fund freedom schools, and i had the privilege of being able to model this book, again, at the freedom summer anniversary. and i was with students in
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sixth, seventh and eighth grade, most of them were around 11 years old. and in two days and just a few chapters of reading this book, we were having conversationses about political philosophy. we were having conversations about the social contract which is john jacques russo because of what walter dean meyers and a lot of our authors and even our illustrators put in their books. and we in turn after six weeks put these books, brand new books, in the hands of our young people. so our kindergarten through fifth grade students, they read upwards of 36 titles in six weeks, and our older students read a book a week, six titles. and they get to take these home. the only name that is in these books other than the author is ask illustrator is their own name. so when we're talking about access to books, when we're talking about access to authors and illustrators and even characters that not only look like our children, but that also are a window into other cultures, we really think that the freedom school's program is a great example of everything that the panel has been talking
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about. so if you'd like more information, we are at w work w dot children -- i'm also going to be here for the remainder of the day if be you have specific questions. >> you also have the apple school programs in addition to the -- after school programs in addition to summer school. >> yes. thank you, yes. we have been able to run the program throughout the year. so while six weeks is what most of our sites -- again, these are community organizations, these are churches, these are colleges and universities, stony brook here, we're in the sunni system -- we also have sites that are able to run this throughout the year. and so we're assisting with homework, but also, again, introducing these titles, these authors, these illustrators, these stories, these narratives to our young people. >> thank you very much, erica. [applause] supportive of the children's school and the tree come defense -- freedom defense fund.
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in fact, my wife sheryl and i serve odd on the board at the children's defense library in tennessee. if you have questions, please feel free to come to the microphone here and direct your question to the panel. are there any questions? how do we stand with time? i see -- wrap it up. we'd like to see -- [laughter] -- we'd like to thank you for coming. we hope we provided you with some good information. and we know that it is not necessarily an easy chore to really change the dynamics, but i think that a lot has been done. a lot of people are doing some wonderful things, and we encourage you if you just buy at least one book, you will help to address the problem. thank you for coming, and we'll see you later. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> and that wraps up the panel on multicultural book publishing, and we'll have more from the harlem book fair in about ten minutes. >> we'd like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback, >> one of the first things i did when i was researching this book in 2012 was to go to the big hacker convention. yes, hackers have conventions. in las vegas, of all places, it's called def-con. and this was def-con 20. and i met some really strange
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people. [laughter] super smart, but, you know, they have something -- a stroll when you walk in, they call it the wall of sheep, which is scrolling in realtime all of the have been cracked in that, you know, in that moment by their software from people's computers. it's like, pow. and you just, you realize how vulnerable you are. for our intelligence agencies, it's no secret -- >> did you see your name go across? >> yeah. >> i had been told before i went by someone who was very helpful to me in this book who i thank in the acknowledgments, don't bring any computers, don't bring your cell phones, don't bring anything. [laughter] as soon as you come in, you know, a false wi-fi network's going to come up and try to capture you. so, you know, these have been recruiting grounds, famously, for our intelligence agencies for a long time. and if you were to go out to
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fort meade, go out to nsa tomorrow or sick months ago or -- six months ago or a year ago as i did researching the book, you would see something pretty interesting. fort meade's a military base, so is you'd see a lot of military officers in uniform, men and women. but you'd see a lot of people with super long hair and black t-shirts, you know, you'd see people like you see at def-con. and that's because they've been recruited. and i think the hacker ethos, basically, you asked is it patriotism, serving my country? no. it's like, if you can hack it, hack it. it's like why, you know, why climb everest, you know? hillary's famous answer, because it's there. that's sort of the spirit of hackers. and that's part of what got out of control at nsa. just in every direction these kids, super smart kids said, oh, wow, we can take that down, i think. and so i think that's why, you know, very, very good, mature
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managers are need inside that world more than anyone else. >> you can watch this and other programs online at this week booktv takes a look at the weekly standard's online book shelf to see what that publication is recommending. on the shelf is turing's cathedral by george dyson as well as "the great war" by peter hart and james hall's cultural history of "the self-portrait." payne's "the special civil war" which is an analysis of the spanish republic and its complex political history. former first lady lee wiess saw katherine adams, as is the metamorphosis of fat in which the evolution of western ideas of obese people lay a role in health come pains. "an idea whose time has come,"
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an account of the political battle to pass the civil rights act of 1964. and finally, the weekly standard online book shelf has the woig my on edward vii and charles murray's "the curmudgeon's guide to getting ahead." [inaudible conversations] >> starting shortly, more from the 2014 harlem book fair live from the schomburg center in new york city. [inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers, watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. >> booktv asked, what are you reading this summer? >> well, first i have to say i'm
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a book fan. if i'm home, i love to spend a little pit of time in the lie -- a little bit of time in the library. and actually, recently, i've found a couple of books i'd recommend. i just finished belzoni, and this is the story about an italian around 1810 who ends up getting an education as a hydrologist, can't get a job. but he does end up with one in egypt, and he brings out all of the art factions, many -- artifacts, many of which are historic artifacts from egypt and its great, rich history and acquires them and brings them back with his skills for the british museum. then another one i think folks monument men," absolutely if you've seen the movie, see "saving italy." and this is by robert edsel. this is an incredible story of saving the art treasures in
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italy. the monuments men movie focuses on northern europe, but what took place in italy is absolutely incredible, saving some of our great art treasures throughout italy. and in the final chapter of this, it was interesting to find that they cover what had happened with mr. heller who was, dean heller who was one of the principals in saving the italian art. and mr. heller ended up, he was a painter, and he was also a professor before he got into the service to save art. but i could have been knocked over with a feather when i found that one of his most famous works is in the reception room at the u.s. senate. he painted one of the portraits. there's five portraits there. so robert heller did taft.
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i just finished -- you can tell i have a slant from visiting italy. great book about the construction of one of the incredible monuments. and a couple others i'd recommend, conquering gotham. if you're into transportation infrastructure, the story of building penn station in new york and getting the tunnel from new jersey into manhattan. an incredible feat. we think we have problems with infrastructure projects now, this is an awesome -- by jill johns. and then i loved "the last train to paradise." it's about bringing a train into florida. it's by a florida artist,less stanford. he's a professor. he's also done burning washington, and in my office i have, actually, one of the, one of the engravings from 1819 of the capital that he used in the
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book. soñnñ les stanford, last train o paradise. finally, this summer i've been going through the library of congress series on presidents. the last one was on wilson. scott berg gave the lecture, and i look forward this summer to finish this volume. i'm pretty excited about that. >> what are you reading this summer? tell us what's on your summer reading list. tweet us @booktv, post it to our facebook page or send us an e-mail, >> here's a look at some books being published this week:
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>> look for these titles in booksts this coming week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv and on c-span2, providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and key public policy events. and every weekend, booktv. now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2, created by the cable tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter.
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>> i grew up in sumter on a paveed street. i was three blocks from the my elementary school. i was six blocks from my middle school, and as bill said, i graduated from mather academy where we called it in those days a boarding school. i was, mylg÷ dormitory was 20 ss from my academic hall. and so i never knew what it was to walk to school for miles. and walk back home. and so when i expressed some disenchantment with the court decision in the -- [inaudible] v. member eleven berg which was a case that ordered the integration of schools of charlotte, north carolina, and i said so publicly, well, emily
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sat me down that evening. and explained to me in vernacular what it was not to be able to ride a school bus and explain that i should not ever be be against busing. [laughter] so i'll say this, when you're running for office, it seem to me -- it seems to me you would do well to understand that people you -- the people you are asking to vote for you. >> watch this and other programs online at >> starting next, a discussion with tracey syphax about her memoir "from the block to the boardroom." this is live from the 2014 harlem book fair.
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[inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon, everyone, and welcome once more to another panel by the harlem book fair. i want to thank max rodriguez once again for putting on this event year after year. the television audience cannot see outside of this auditorium, but if they could, they would see the street is filled with people, books, there's enthusiasm. it's just a wonderful day, and thank good the sun is out. thank god the sun is out. i am5cn elizabeth nunez, but bee i introduce myself, i'd like to introduce my co-panelist, tracey syphax. >> just want to do a quick introduction. my name is tracey syphax. i'm a 20-year entrepreneur. i wrote a book titled "from the block to the boardroom" that
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basically has chronicled my life story, and i'm just here to share with you all this morning. i am also just a recent, just as recent as two weeks ago, one of the white house champions of change for this year by president obama -- >> wow. [applause] >> and i spend a lot of my time, thank you, i spend a lot of my time speaking on mass incarceration and using proper reentry tools, and i'll tell you a little bit about why i do that later on. >> while we may seem strange partners on this stage here -- [laughter] the thing that binds us is that we have both written memoirs. and for me, it's my first memoir. i've written eight novels. some of you may know some of my titles, "in between boundary boundaryies," etc. i really am an academic. i have been teaching in the city university for many, many years and am currently at hunter college. and this is my first memoir,
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"not for everyday use." so the first question i want to ask tracey is a question that a lot of people ask me, actually, is how do you get the courage to put in print some really true and hard things about yourself? because when you're writing, when i'm writing a novel, i can hide behind the fiction. when you're writing a memoir, you've got to put it all out there. >> yes. and be that's a good question, elizabeth. a question that i get quite often. in my book i take people to my lowest point in life, and as a 20-year-old -- 20-year business owner, a lot of people have asked thatñi question, why would you do that? and you own a business, i own a construction and real estate -- >> could i just ask you, what, why did you do that? >> yes. there's a reason why. it's because as i said even though i'm a 20-year business owner and, as i said, i was honored by4 the white house a couple years ago, i also made
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history aspirinston chambers entrepreneur of the year. princeton is princeton, trenton is trenton. first african-american in the 51-year history to ever win that award. so the reason, and to answer your question, the reason why i wrote the book is because i wanted to encourage anybody else that's trapped out in that lifestyle to let them know they can not only come out of that, but they can prosper. i wanted to take people to my lowest point in life and then to bring them to where i am at today as a respectable business owner in the community, a community activist, to show them that there's a way up and a way out. >> could you talk a little bit about that lowest point in your life? how old were you, and what were the pressures on you to go into that life? >> yeah. you know, and i say this all the time, a lot of our kids, we grow up, we don't have an opportunity to choose our parents. we don't have an opportunity to
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choose the environment we grow up in. it is what it is. i grew up in a single parent household, mother on drugs. i was first introduced to drugs by my mother and her then-boyfriend. >> wow. >> a lot of my family members would go to jail one year, come home. so i grew up thinking that going to jail and coming home was normal. that's what we did. only to find out later on in life that that's not what we do. so being able to take people to those lowest points, i started using drugs at the age of 13 -- >> wow. >> very young. started selling drugs at the age of 14. and i just grew up in that lifestyle until i was 31 years old. and i finally said enough is enough, and i made a vow in 1993 when i came home from prison, i made a vow to myself and my god that i was going to change my life around, and i was not going back to prison, and i was not going back to that lifestyle. my last conviction was from 1988, and i've been free ever
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since. >> wow, wonderful. .. he said listen, i have seen you twice since i have been under binge, 1980, 1988 and doing the same thing and he told me three time is the john. next time you are eligible for 18 years and i can double that sentence and make it 36 years.
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this guy is trying to take my life and i realize i could not come back before him again and expect to get out of prison. >> sometimes i really should be talking about my memoir too. i think people have children and don't realize -- my sister used to say to me, she said you know what? when you're going to deliver, have a good time because that is the least amount of pain you are going to have. it is a lifetime thing, people have children and don't realize the pressure is in their hands, they could shape it one way or another. you are seeing the other way. >> i tried to do something different with my kids. as a father, me and my wife celebrate 30 years of marriage
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this august. we have been together for 30 years so we met in the eighth grade. i am telling you my story, everything i have gone through, my family has gone through, a whole chapter in my book where she talks about the experience see had to go through being with the person that has a drug problem, been in jail, trying to get something together says she has a whole chapter in my book, the name of the chapters from that perspective and talk about that. >> why didn't she -- >> it did affect her quite often. we used to call it our seasonal breaking up where she said enough is enough. >> why didn't she go into that life too? >> she has never been involved with drugs. i did a lot of things from her. is ironic now that here we are celebrating our 30th anniversary, my wife is a
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corrections officer. my daughter is a corrections officer, my son is in prison. talking about how we as parents have a responsibility to our children. my son and my daughter grew up in the same household, my son is in prison and as a man is my responsibility to raise my son right. my wife does all she can, but i say this all the time, a woman cannot raise a man, cannot raise a boy. take a father to do that. my daughter, corrections officer at the age of 23, she is a 7 year correction officer and as a whole career in front of her and my son, starting to realize the rap he took was the wrong one and he is getting himself together and i had high hopes that he was going to do the right thing. >> two she huge questions and you have questions too but one
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of them, i forgot the name of the woman but she had done the deal and said most of the women were in jail are there because they -- because of their connection to a boyfriend who pulled them into their life so my question is your wife was important. >> she pulled away. >> what was it that had her pulling away and not pulling into the life? you said you got pulled into the life because of your mother and her boyfriend and the community around you but there she was. what made her so strong? >> my wife believed in her children more. loved me that loved her children, more than she loved me and she told me that. when we broke up the last time she set i have to leave. you are not doing right. i have a son and daughter and my responsibility is to raise my son and my daughter in an environment away from what you are doing and i understood that. living the life i was living i
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understood that some my wife is -- i have been with her 38 years. she is a very grounded woman and very strong woman and i thank god being able to have someone like that in my life, to have that to fall back on because the same relationship i had with my wife for 30 years is the same relationship i had with her mother who is another strong african-american woman who is like my mother so these two strong african-american women that have been part of my life for 30 years basically set the standard how to conduct my life and brought me from a dark time in my life to who i am today. >> why is it your son is in the households with a mother who is a strong woman stands up against this. why is it the daughter goes one way, what happens to the sun? before i get there i want to say there was something you said it
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struck me which was that your wife loved her children more than she loved you. that is pre courageous for a man to say, for a husband to say. that was the passage in beloved that got me, when she says that her husband, you know, he fell apart when he saw what was happening to her and she said i went on and the reason i went on is i had two children and the baby needing my milk and i couldn't just -- in other words, she was -- raising my children over my husband and i say that because would you believe i am going to mention my memoir? that is one of the hardest
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things for me in my memoirs. my mother loved her husband more than she loved her children. i felt always that my mother, my mother's choice she had to make one was always with her husband and i recall a scene in my memoir that my mother had six children ranging from ages 9 to 2 and my father got a scholarship in london and i remember i was 5 years old and i remember seeing my mother crying crying crying every single day. she was useless, she couldn't take care of us, she couldn't do anything. u.s. -- couldn't hold it together waiting for letters from my father eventually my mother took that ship from trinidad to england.
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i am talking long ago. and stayed with him for quite a few months. it just was something that stayed with me for the rest of my life. my friends who didn't have that situation and even in my family, there were 11 of us but i could tell you something at as i got older, all my siblings left the home and my parents died in their 90s, they had a very long life and healthy long life. they were not sickly or anything like that. i began to appreciate that they loved each other more -- my father loved us too. if they had to make the choice it would have been each other. i resented it growing up which i talk about in my novel but in the end i got to feel they
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didn't need us. they have a good time. so let me get back to your son, what happened? >> my son made bad choices. >> i am talking about the influence, what influences someone to go one way or the other and we are saying parents have a great thought because you were saying that is what happened with you that your mother had a great part in your going that direction. >> as i said, my wife was very grounded in her beliefs and strong in her convictions and that is why i said it is hard for a woman to raise a boy into a man. it takes a real man to do that and for the better part of growing up i wasn't there. i was in prison. my wife raise my daughter and my son and my absence and my daughter like i said is -- has a career in corrections and my son
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is in corrections. i take ownership of that. that is my fault. i also know that my son the last time it was just bad choice. my son -- my son just went to jail five years ago so he went to jail when i was at the height -- he was working for my company. things he did he didn't have to do. he made the choice, people telling him -- being influenced by that crowd and ending up getting shot and spending time in prison. >> i want to ask about those choices when it comes to blackmail and it just seems to me, what is it that makes them make those wrong choices?
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is it a kind of hopelessness, a kind of like i don't see a future, seeing the future with you. >> that is a question. one of the things i talk about in the book i grew up in the 70s and 80s in trenton, new jersey. don't know if anyone hears familiar with trenton, new jersey. there was a street in trenton, new jersey two miles long which in the 70s and 80s was 11-12 african american-owned businesses and i grew up in that area so i grew up at a time where i got to see on a daily basis what an african-american entrepreneur looked like. i looked -- i worked for two of them for a couple of years so i grew up knowing what that looked like. a lot of our kids to they grow up and don't see that. they don't see themselves as entrepreneurs and i have been involved with a program for 17
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years, johns hopkins university, the business program and what we do in that program is going to public schools and teach six fort seven how to run a business. african-american and business owners were part of the program so once again our kids are not getting the opportunity -- to see themselves. i have been involved for 17 years. i have to be the example of what they can be and i wanted to say this real quick. in trenton, new jersey, i am the only second private citizen in the history of that town to have built a private residence in that town. and i did that for a reason. number one, once again, kids growing up need to see that
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image. my office is located on martin luther king boulevard like any other martin luther king boulevard across the country. one of the most challenging areas in trenton. a nice office, we renovate it. once again, it is because -- i can have an office anywhere. once again, our kids in our community need to seek fissions. not just drug dealers, not fancy cars, clothes, they need to see visions of central entrepreneurs look like them so they know they can aspire to -- >> exactly what i believed for many years because i have been a professor in the university and i believe when i stepped in front of that classroom i don't only teach a subject but when
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the students see me it i give them an idea of what they can be because at this point i had written nine novels and i can tell you that i spoke my first novel at 42, why did i wait so long to write my first novel at 42? that was because i never saw anyone like me writing a novel. i never saw a black woman and i have to say john oliver kilns, the great african-american novelist, a hero, came to my college as a writer in residence and eyes that look at these papers and he said you are a writer, elizabeth. without that role model, without one who looked like me saying it was possible, i wouldn't have had this career. people talk about diversity as if making different colors in a room but it is not about that.
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it is about giving young people, older people, if you don't see some things that is possible it is hard to do it so right now i actually -- i give workshops in my room to residents there. i do it free of charge. it takes a lot of work. i am paying back early. it leads me to the other question about leadership, black leadership. could you talk a little bit about that and before you do that tell us about the business you run? >> i believe black leadership myself, i speak for myself, i have an obligation. i have an obligation as a present that grew up in a city neighborhood that has been able to accomplish something in life and be successful.
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i have an obligation, my obligation to reach back and do more. i wrote this book not -- and trust me -- 16, not like getting rich selling these books. i wrote these books to be able to be that -- with the lot of young folks need. on the daily basis are losing hope. >> how are they going to get the book? i am speaking as an academic. one of the big problems is they are not reading. >> i understood that when i wrote the book. i did it -- if you get a chance bill on youtube and go to the board rob -- the boardroom and the video will show up. of very positive message describes this book and the reason i did that is because once again just like you are saying a lot of our kids are visual and audio.
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i need them to see themselves in this book so i did the video young man out of trenton, new jersey, up and coming rap star and i knew this guy had talent because i gave him my book and said i need a theme song for this book. he did that theme song in one take. if you listen to it it has 10,000 hits on youtube. it is phenomenal that this young mind could create with rap music that song in one take and i didn't have to say take this out and put this in and the video itself when you go to youtube he directed the video, we shot the video in 12 hours in one day, we start in the morning and end at 9:00 or 10:00 that night. the talent that our kids have is there, just needs to be cultivated and brought out. >> i am going to tell you and you may tell me i am totally wrong, you are unique in this sense, it seems to be that most
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people when they get theirs, take pairs out of dodge. that is why i am asking about leadership. i just feel -- i don't understand when someone helps you get somewhere that you finally get there and you don't feel you have a real responsibility to get directly to that person, the community as you are doing. that is not what we see all the time and that is part of the problem we have. >> i agree and you can talk about that to athletes and entertainers. >> millions. i tell you that i am really offended. i turn off the tv when they show programs of people living in houses where they cannot
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possibly for a whole month, what do you tell me? the values you are asking me to have. i just feel come john, what are you giving back? >> it is important. i am very grounded in my faith and my religion and what i believe in and i got that way. it didn't just happen through my addiction to drugs and i say this in the book. i got shot in 1988 and i have but 102-year-old grandmother and chief is sharp now. she told me 20 some years ago, i can't tell you to get out of the streets but i will tell you something. god is going to find you in your darkest hour. only then will you realize what you truly are glitch that happens to me in 1991. i was in raleigh state prison,
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spent 20 hours in latka for something i didn't do. for years separate. >> explain that to us. >> 23 our law. you don't the come of the cell for 23 hours. in half an hour, like in a yard like this where the walls are so high all you see is the sky. i did that over some things that i didn't do. i had a cousin who was locked up, the correction officer, tried to break it up and he went to the hold and got charged with assault. i got charged with assault. he got shipped to state prison. i got shipp to raleigh state prison. they gave him a street charge. they gave me a street charge. they dropped might street charge, the administrative charge is the prison system
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charge so i spent a year in a cell that is no bigger than the average sized bath room. that is good. god has a way of doing some amazing things to wake you up and smacked you around and he did it then because i remember sitting in that cell, i read the bible from start to finish and found out who i really was and i knew then that i wasn't the guy that landed me there. when i came out of raleigh in 19 -- around the end of 1990 i was shipped to camden, new jersey, to riverfront state prison and i was a changed man. i was a changed man. i was not the same person that went in. stuff like that, i really believe, i get this question of a time. if you go back over your life would you change anything you went through? i got a bullet lodged in my
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spine. i tell people all the time i would not change one thing i have been through because what i have been through is because god wanted me to go through that. he wanted to put me where i am today and do the things i do today and to be an example of what you can do. >> you made the choice. god put you in the situation but you made the choice. >> it was a hard choice. >> you could've gone either way but you made the choice and that is admirable. tell us about low award you got from president obama. let's -- >> june 30th, now i can remember this date for the rest of my life. in 2011 when i became a entrepreneur of the year as prison chamber of commerce as the first african-american in the 51 year history and the first acts offended but they
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didn't know it. i thought that was the top. once i am gone, i was going to be there but a month and a half ago i got an e-mail from the white house. as i said, i developed programs which i talk a little bit about, i also speak in prison and drug rehab stories and halfway houses around the country on ending as incarceration for non-violent offenders and on capitol reentry to entrepreneurship for folks coming home from prison because i've learned this from 1985, october of 1985, i attended the million man march and if you don't have a charge you don't have a job your charge was to go back to your community and create one and i started my business three months after that. fast forward to june 30th when i got the e-mail from the white house, actually missed it became on tuesday on election day in
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trenton and i was working on getting a friend of mine of elected mayor and ironic when i was trying to get elected mayor the former police chief, best friends of the day, i talk about him in my book also but he didn't win, and checked on thursday and the white house had hidden e-mail, and was nominated as a champion of change 2014 and i had to respond and i didn't so i responded that thursday and i was done. so she said listen, give as information by the end of the day and you are still in there. this was unprecedented. thousand nominees from across the country. i was one of 16. [applause] >> went to the white house and was on some panels with attorney
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general eric holder and i believe we are in a good position, attorney-general older doing things are revamping the justice system and criminal laws and all these laws that are continuously incarcerating african-americans at alarming rates, incarcerating more people in america than any country and it is as immoral that as free as we say we are, it is mainly african-americans and as free as we say we are we have laws right now, as was written so eloquently in the new jim-crow, we have laws, don't care if you're a convicted for one year in jail or ten years in jail you are convicted to a lifetime when you get home because you will never be eligible for housing, for a job, you're voting rights. all those things you need to reintegrate yourself back into society or strip for the rest of your life. i put my old state number 226926
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as a reminder in my book. if i was ever to go back into the job market next week guess what? i will still have to check on the application i have been convicted of a crime. we worked in the state of new jersey and this is why i wanted a chance -- just recently i announced because it happened two weeks ago, the state legislature of trenton pass a law i worked on tirelessly for three is with the new jersey institute social justice called ben the box, which stops employers from discriminating against people with criminal records. it is not the you are going to be asked about that criminal record, just that we want you to release the second or third interview. we thought you could at least a we offered him a job, now we need to hear back before we give you this job and that is giving them the opportunity to get their foot in the door because if you check the box on the
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application your application only goes in this pile over here and that piles is to not hire a you could be listing your best employes, over 20 years in business during the height of mike company, 18 employees might best jobs are ex offenders because of a comment, 18 employees, some of the best employees i ever had. looking for an opportunity. i got guys to come to my office on a daily basis a guy can't go back to jail. i just need and opportunity. i will sweep up, i will do anything. i cannot go back to jail. i have a son. when somebody tells you that and you have been through that and you know where they're coming from is not something you can walk away from. not something you can just
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ignore. winning the award of being a champion of change in the area of reentry into mass incarceration is not something i take lightly, something i'm going to work on until the day i die because it is such a very important issue. >> my father used to say there for the grace of god go i.. limited too hard on ourselves, there for the grace of god go i. if you were in god's situation what would you do? i am sure you have a number of questions to ask so we are going to maybe exchange one more question here and if you would line up the microphone so we could go right into your questions while we are doing that. how is your son now? >> my son is in north new jersey
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at anne hathaway house so he is on his way home. this is my son's second bid. in the first one we sent to north carolina. we fly and my wife takes another airplane and listen. you were young. he came back to new jersey, got locked up again. as a parent you say that but do you really mean it. i am doing it again but like the judge told me, third time is the charm, i am telling him i am not doing it any more. for me as the person being locked up to go into the prison system i don't mind going back. i do at all the time. i will be speaking to the inmates at trinity state prison on september 12th which is my
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birthday i told him was my birthday. i will be spending my birthday in state prison talking to the inmates for the naacp to have a branch inside the prison because i believe it is such an important issue. this is it, i am not doing it anymore. i think he understands -- >> you will be there every single time. >> i used to say just don't let your children here several hits against the grounds. and under them, this is the last time it takes that sliding for you if you do it again. tell us your name and your question. let's go to questions rather than comments because we have a wonderful opportunity. >> my name is chris johnson from albany, new york.
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the question for tracey syphax is what role did the memoir play in your healing process from when you finally came out of hell to where you are today? >> i talk about it in the book. i was abused as a young kid, 8 years old. my mom moved to texas and when we got to texas she got locked up and i was in a foster home and abused by a young lady that was there. something i never talked about. i talked about it with my wife. my mom didn't even know. when i wrote the book i talk about it and a lot of my family members found out about it's only then. so writing this book, i had a ghost writer that wrote the book so you are talking a lot of full
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conversations, tape-recorded conversations to atlanta. it was almost like on long caps being able to remove my whole life. i start to where i am today. i have a great opportunity to cleanse myself of a lot of things i held in. a lot of things other people did know about and did very well. it was good for me, good therapy for me to do the book. c-span: >> i will take your question too because the memoir has a kind of cathartic release and you find yourself facing some things you would not ordinarily face and one of them i have to tell you, when i was having my son in hospital in brooklyn which i will not name, the night before i was -- to take him home the
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night before, i am getting myself ready because in the morning i am taking my son home. in comes this doctor. he was a young doctor. along with social service person with a clipboard in his hand saying they reported me and i said reported me for what? you know what. giving your son macedonia to calm him down. i was a professor. i had a ph.d.. i had written of book. but i was okay. i don't know what they are talking about. i can't connect. i didn't know what that was. he told me i was the heroin addict. and i said how?
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immediately in front of everybody, i didn't care. i said find it. find where i injected myself. it is in my memoir. it is a hard story for my son to read because it happened on a friday and they have already reported me and therefore the bureau was locked up. i couldn't get my son out until monday and of course at this point the hospital is afraid i am going to sue them so when i come on monday to get my son they have all kinds of excuses. cheese spitting up, he is this, he is that, you can't take him, i can close my eyes and see myself ripping through that hospital and taking my son and i said i don't care what form you want me to sign he is going out
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here with me. it is a hard thing and people don't realize, they talk about racism but don't realize the extent to which it affects us. almost in tears, you kind of hide that from your son because it is like once people believe it is absolutely not true but people believe it. i don't even know what it is about. you hide it and i wrote it in the memoir and is a hard thing for my son to read because the next thing in my head -- when he gets to go to college and looking for a job they have a hard thing, is an unbelievable thing that happened and that was
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1976 missing a long time ago for some of you but that was yesterday for me. let's take another question. >> good afternoon. i am from new jersey, the brunswick area. i have a question regarding your daughter. you mentioned your daughter is doing well in her career and had a strong foundation with her mom. strong african-american woman. how is your daughter able to establish a healthy relationship with african black men since there was such a conflict in her life with her father not there and her brother being incarcerated. >> that is a good question. my daughter has done very well
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in her relationship with other men. as far as i know my daughter is 30 years old now. i can only remember three boyfriends in her life. her daughter's father who she is not with now and the person she is with now who they are looking to get married in 2015 so i think she has done very well and i think once again i attribute that to her mother. >> to you too. >> she talks a little bit in the book also. my daughter will tell you that i am not the father that i used to be and she remembers but also remembers even in my addiction i had my daughter. you know what i mean? i played with my daughter, have a lot of pictures in my addiction, meet with my
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daughter, laying in the bed with her, so we had that father/daughter relationship. she remembered that but she has done very well now. >> as i said i am an epidemic condition and academic and one thing i always told my female students, sex with a boyfriend, two children, you can be met with your boyfriend all you want but that is the children's father so no matter what happens you keep this relationship, let them have a father. was a lesson i applied to myself too. my son has a great relationship with his father. he hasn't got a clue. he hasn't got a clue with what happened in my life. i think when i told him i was getting divorced, everything seems fine, what is going on.
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it is two different things. i learned it from my parents the same way. your child is entitled to a father or mother. no matter what your little problem is or your big problem is. >> before we get to the question, with my father also, i didn't have a relationship with my father, i lived in trenton, new jersey, which is a 50 minute ride. my relationship with my father, when i did that in school, i took a buzz from trenton to asbury, got beach and went back to trenton. even today, a relationship i had with my dad is beautiful.
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my dad supports me in everything i do. i have a great relationship, my dad had challenges growing debt but he got clean the law earlier in the newseums to work for the federal government. he did well for himself but he had some challenges growing up also that he had to overcome. that was my relationship. >> we have the beating aside, totally against that. 1,000 -- >> this is in the early 70s. >> selling that out, just the fact that she is not doing that, and that was love.
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>> i am from and eddie -- and eddie --amityville and i have a question about my relationship with my sister. she is an entrepreneur, and she entwines all these things and gets caught up with unsavory elements in our environment so she has been incarcerated most of my adult life back and forth. since i was 15 years old. in the frost this of differing times she has impersonated me. i am counselor and the work and different boards and that live
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in the town of babylon to assist in opening a silver home and i have been awarded certain things. as a veterans they allow me to start my own business and i think that mean -- i have one major challenge and that is how do i at this age find healing and forgiveness for my sister and be able to help her because literally she is asking for my help. >> let me have tracy answer the question. >> i have to be fair, i have to give her a chance but where and how do i start? it has to be a way that i haven't been manipulated in the past. >> that is of very important question. i have a lot of family members in prison. just recently, my cousin that i got in trouble with that i was locked up with, that same cousin
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is locked away for murder, and i still write him, send him money, support him even though he is still in prison now and may be in prison for a long time. i think it is a way you can support from a far. it is hard -- these are my brothers and sisters, these are my cousins, my cousins are like my brothers. we are always that close. i try to support him and support them. another cousin, his brother actually who came home from doing 17 years, has a job and lost the job so i am trying to help him get another job to keep him from going to survive,
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family is family. you don't let them bring you down and stop you from doing what you need to do. family can do that also. you have to support -- your sister, that is never going to change. you have to support her but you don't want her to hamper you from doing what you wouldn't do for yourself or your family. >> i appreciate your time. >> i don't know how much time we have. i need a timekeeper. we have eight or so minutes. ten minutes. let's have your question. >> right on time. i always find it a privilege to be in places like this.
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how is it that you haven't found your darkest period? that is what your grandmother said, you will be found in your darkest moment. you were able to recover to a point that you flew to the heights that you did and open a business and have people who come to you to be employed with the same background you have. and your people are pursuing -- and the people before me. where did you find that you can pass on to the next person to do the same thing? >> it is less god for me. they don't like to talk about religion but they help me, that is what helped me. my faith and my belief in god. and that would be the
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cornerstone. when you start reading the bible and the talks about the first will be less than the last will be first and i look at myself and was rejected. and what you really believe in is nothing that -- i believe even with all the stuff you have, all the convictions, prior addictions, everything i have my still believe and my faith allows me to believe this. there is nothing that i can't do. people say you should run for mayor or senate. in my mind, and if i wanted to, not something i'm interested in right now but when people say that to me, it is not far-fetched for me because my faith allows me to believe that anything i want to do in this
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lifetime is impossible for me to do and do is cut and dried with me. >> i grew up in trinidad in the tropics where we have a lot of bats at night and my father would say to us you are not a bad. when you fall you don't fall on your head and get knocked out because you are not a bad. you don't fall on your head and get knocked out. you fall on your feet and jump up. the piece that a lot of people need to tell lot of young people again, here i am as the teacher, it is about hard work and persistence. they missed the idea of hard work. people say to me he elizabeth, how come every time i look around you have written another
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book? this morning at 5:30 in the morning i was on my computer. i knew i had to get here. from 5:30 to 9:30, how many hours is that? i got four hours of riding the morning i just started. it is persistence and doing the work. when students come to me and tell me, when i start, if you coming at 10:30 when you better go to somebody else's class. because i have to model it. i have to be fair on the dust at 10:30. when you and your papers, the next class i have to have your paper corrected. i want you to give me back. so you models that. there are no exceptions and it always interests me that students come to my class the next semester, you know what you
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are into. sometimes when you say you wish it, i want it, i wish it, i want it, that is fine but young people have to understand people who reach where you are, wishing it and dreaming and imagining it, it is by working, putting hard work, i say to my son all the time, and -- >> that is important. and it started early and end very late. and i believe in hard work.
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i believe like you said from being on time, doing what you say you are going to do. if you can't be on time, the early. that is something we have to live by. i also believe -- no excuses. i don't believe in making excuses for anything. i believe in results. my dad always told me for every problem there are ten solutions and as you walk away at you get harder and harder but you have to figure it out. i really believe that. >> people have to understand. what i tell you i stopped at 9:30 my granddaughter who is 7 years old had not finished her chapter in the book yesterday and i told her parents at 930 she comes over to my house at 9:30 and says can i look at tv? i simply 10 minutes. you have to finish the chapter. i am saying to you you put that
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with generations, you let somebody -- i let her know if you are going to finish this and you didn't finish it today you finish it tomorrow even if it is -- you finish it. and i think we need -- many more years that i want to tell you but i know really my students who have done well who have achieved and some of them i just, you know, i was walking down lewis avenue and this man comes to me and practically bows in the streets and everyone is walking him and he says do you know who i am? he is a doctor ought some prestigious hospital and he says to me i was in your class where i teach thousands of students, can't even remember, when i heard you call yourself a doctor elizabeth nunez, what is that?
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talking bout modeling and i am not american but it is that and the sense of knowing -- is not just a few can dream it you can achieve it. that is not it. you dream it that is the first the. if you work hard you can achieve it. you have a question. >> my name is david. i wanted -- a quick question. how can we address the mentality young black males in our communities, get them, find some way to get them out from that mentality and getting themselves in trouble realizing that is not really a thing? i got to get them to read my book. >> that is the reason i titled it -- some students i teach in my business program didn't know anything about it. i don't want you to experience
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that. i want you to go straight to the board room. and how to get there and allow our kids in the inner city and the young man who did the introduction to the book said it so eloquently, it is a walking beautifully with god, hard work and opportunity and those three things, i don't believe in good luck, i never wish anybody good luck. i believe we all have the ability to create our own version of lock through hard work and opportunity. i try to spread that message wherever i can. i don't believe if you dream it you can achieve it. when you dream you got to wake up. do something to make that happen. >> i am tired of hearing that, you have no idea. this is the first time i met you but i am inspired by you, i am inspired to get more involved
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and work harder. >> thank you, appreciate it. >> read his book, by the book, pass it on. i didn't say much about my book. thank you for being here. >> thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> in about ten minutes we will be back with more live coverage of the harlem book fair in new york city. >> c-span2 providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and keep public policy events and every weekend booktv, for 15 years the only television network devoted
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to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2 created by the cable-tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local, cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, follow us on twitter. >> by virtue of marion this unbelievable woman in doing better for my family and started this business of of my couch and throughout the whole process of transitioning from being a coach for a living and the teacher to a businessman i have still in volunteers situations coached in and out of football throughout my life and that took football. we had 17 kids on our varsity football team and previously tenures record of seven wins and 92 losses. six years later what we left was 75 kids and the record of 18 wins and two losses.
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in an area where an 18-year-old mail was three times more likely to be incarcerated than he is to be in college by his 20th birth to be graduated 36 seniors and 35 went to college. i am here to tell you the same thing that built that football team and the same thing that built my family that i am extremely proud about and the same thing that bill small-business are what is outlined in my book against the grain. it is about character. it is about commitment. it is about integrity. it is about the cliche of getting out of your comfort zone. it is about understanding the dignity of hard work. is about understanding what the paramount, the strength of the commitment. it is about understanding forgiveness. is about understanding and legacy. what is amazing about those fundamental tendencies is it doesn't matter if it is your family, doesn't matter if it is business, doesn't matter if it is society, doesn't matter if it
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is politics. whatever walk of life you are involved in, they work. for all walks of life. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> here is a look at some book fairs and festivals happening around the country. this weekend concludes the annual freedom fest in los angeles. libertarian conference holds author discussions and debates on a wide variety of political topics. booktv covered several events at this year's festival and you will see those in coming weeks. in the harlem book fair to place this weekend which booktv covered live. on august 30th we are live at the library of congress's national book festival at the washington convention center. from september 26th through the 28 the annual baltimore book festival takes place at the city's in harbor. let us know about book fairs and
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festivals in your area and we will add them to our list. e-mail us at >> the tv is in new york city for research in black culture. our coverage continues shortly. >> we would like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback >> booktv asks what i you reading this summer? >> what is on your summer reading list? >> so much on the air. i have to read books all the time for the work that i do. there are always things on my list i want to get to that i have to get through summer to get to. ..
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>> this nigeria story, again, i thk has just wrenched all of our hearts. and i want to get at that book, number one. be and then angelica houston, who i love as an actress, has a book out called "watch me." it's the second part of her memoir. she's written it in two parts, and now we're getting into the good stuff, the jack nicholson years. i had her on my tv show for the first week, so i'm excited to read her book because she comes
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from such a rich legacy. one of the first families in hollywood where there are three generations of academy award winners, her grandfather, her father, the great director john houston, and her, of course, for prizzi's honor. and i just love generations of families that find a way to serve the rest of us with their artistic and creative gifts. right thousand i'm trying to -- right now i'm trying to get the audio book done of my own book, "death of a king." i enjoyed so much writing this book, and this is now my 17th book, but this, believe it or not, peter, is the first one i've done an audio book for. it's taxing, but the idea of being able to get into a booth, recording studio and to actually voice the book that you've written, i'm having some fun with it, and i'm just trying to get that done right now. before i get to malala or angelica, i've got to finish this audio book. but when i get that done, that's on my list. >> what are you reading this
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summer? tell us what's on your summer reading list. tweet us @booktv, post it to our facebook page or send us an e-mail, >> next from harlem, a panel on james baldwin and american morality. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> thank you for joining us. my name is rich blint, i'm the associate director of the office of community outreach and education at the school of the arts at columbia university.
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it's my pleasure to be here and introduce this mid afternoon panel, james baldwin and american morality. this is presented as part of the year of james baldwin in celebration or partnership of harlem stage, columbia university school of the arts and new york live arts in celebration of the author, essayist and activist's 90th year. today we're joined by some esteemed, distinguished panelists, and i'm just going to introduce them very briefly before i introduce our moderator. jonathan holloway is a professor and dean of yale college, he's the author of a number of volumes, most importantly, most recently jim crow wisdom: memory and identity in black america since 1940. we're also joined by marcus hunter. marcus hunter holds -- [inaudible] in african-american studies at yale but also is professor in sociology. he'll be joining the d. at
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ucl -- the d. at ucla this fall, right, marcus? the author of a phenomenal be book -- and i say that because i've read it -- "black city makers." from oxford university press. walter mosley is here, the phenomenal novelist -- [applause] i was just about to say whose books are too numerous to mention, he doesn't need introduction. [laughter] we'll move right along to the wonderful, brilliant and delightly imani perry, the author of two major books. and numerous articles and book reviews. finally and not least at all is claudia roth pierpont, staff writer for the new new yorker ws the author of most recently roth unbound. a writer and his books. and a staffer, like i mentioned,
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at the new yorker. our moderator this evening is my generous and brilliant colleague, kendall thomas, sitting right here to my right. kendall is the co-founder and director of the center for law and culture at columbia university school of law. he's also the nash professor of law at columbia. please welcome kendall thomas. [applause] >> thank you, rich, and thank you so much for your vision this organizing this year of the harlem book fair on the great james baldwin. [applause] james baldwin, as you all know, was a son of harlem, and it is so fitting that james baldwin provides the inspiration for our discussion this afternoon of james baldwin and american
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morality. we have with us a stellar collection, i would call them a dream team. i could not have come up with a better staff of panelists to discuss the question of baldwin and american morality than the one you see before you. and i hope that you're as excited as i am at the conversation we're about to have. my job is a very easy one. i get to ask the questions. theirs is a hard one with because they have to -- one because they have to offer if not answers, responses to questions that are suggested by this extraordinarily powerful topic and by the life, work and example of the great james baldwin himself. so we'll start with an obvious
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question, and that is this: is there an american morality, and if there is an american morality , what is the nature of american horlty? morality? perhaps i should start with you, claudia. >> well, is this okay? i certainly think there's an american desire for morality, an american sense of itself as having a moralitiment -- morality, which always seems to be a little bit ahead of us in getting achieved. it's been tragic, the lack of achievement considering what we were on paper over a very long period of time, but i wouldn't say there's not been an american horlty. i think baldwin thought there was or could be an american morality. i think the title given to this very panel, achieving our
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country, was very important to him. he thought that could with done. unfortunately, it wasn't done in his lifetime, died in 1987 at 63, and he was very bitter about having put in more than 60 years with promises unfulfilled. yet in a way he never gave up, and i think achieving our country, as everyone knows from the tire next time which for all -- the fire next time which for all its warnings and dire predictions what could happen, he did say that if we come together, i think to paraphrase, that it's -- the more conscious whites and the more conscious blacks and together we can help create consciousness in these others. and if we can do that, and he actually uses the term "like lovers," if we can do that like lovers, we will get somewhere. we will end the racial nightmare, and we will achieve our country. and he says achieve something that has never quite existed before. it's something that takes more,
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unfortunately, more than a lifetime or two lifetimes. but i think little by little with a lot of you shouldback you see more rights being accorded -- pushback, you see more rights being accorded, you see self-interests challenged in beating back against morality. but with it's present and it's hard and it's bitter, and it's a fight and a constant struggle. but if you don't believe that it can happen, i think baldwin thought you were lost. you had to believe it could happen if you just -- not in his lifetime, maybe in his nephew's. not to say there isn't rage about what hadn't happened and what did happen to you, but you have to keep pushing, you have to believe it's possible, or you fall into despair, and for him that was the worst thing that could happen to you. >> walter mosley, is there an american morality? >> i hope not. sounds awful. [laughter] you know, really. i mean, just the question sounds awful. because, you know, like, if you had one morality, you know, lots
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of people would be in trouble. you know? because we don't all fit in the same caste. you have someone like baldwin, baldwin was one of the few writers of his time who is like equivalent to a jazz musician, meaning to say that he's head and shoulders above the rest of the culture of america. and so his, the way he thought, the way he saw the world, his, you know, rather than being biracial, he was bicultural, being black and gay, he understood a world, a possibility of freedom that we could have in which we might think and feel different kinds of things. but, you know, the idea of having a solitary morality sounds kind of fascist, you know? and, you know, and you know, like, your morality depends on where you're coming from, you know? if you're coming from a, if you're a child who's been through a prison-like school
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system and then ends up going to a prison, you know, your morality is like, you know, i don't snitch, and, you know, i hit back whoever hits me because that's, that's it, you know? you might be, you know, raised in, you know, some kind of middle class community in new jersey where, you know, that kind of notion, you know, is just, you know, counterproductive, you know? and just sexuality alone, you know? like -- because a lot of times morality is applied to sexuality. and so, like, you know, then you have people like, you know, langston hughes and james baldwin and many others who, you know, who have that part of their life has to be, you know -- i just, i remember when i was 7 at victory baptist day school in los angeles. los angeles, not in the neighborhood you're living in. [laughter] we had a church, and we all had to go to the church, and i, you know, didn't want to go. and on every seat there was, you know, "the fire next time."
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and when bald wic came to address us, it was so wonderful because there was a sense of tran seven dense, you know? the words and the arguments were all good and well, but there was a sense of transcendence that we all had to gesture toward, but we were going to get different places. that's how it felt. and that's how i think about it, you know? yeah. >> imani perry. is there an american morality? >> so i think there is, um, in the united states an ongoing and deep and pervasive practice of both immorality and amorality. ranging from genocide to enslavement, right? to neocolonial arrangements to jim crow to what we have now, kind of absolute mass incarceration. all of these kinds of forms of
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devastation. i think that what it occasions, the kind of encounter with the depth of both immorality and amorality and occasions a kind of interior interrogation if one allows that to take praise, and i think that -- place, and i think that's part of baldwin's genius in being to talk about these dynamics and bring it to the level of interior examination and then see the prospect of transformation there. my second book, it comes from a talk that -- the title comes from a talk that baldwin gave to teachers. and part of what he says in 1963 and he's saying to teachers we have to stop with this mythology, because by the time a black child is 7 years old, he's already had so many doors slammed in his face, we need to be able to tell the truth about that social reality in order for that child to create something
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anew. and i guess for me that's a particular -- i think that's a particular challenge of this moment given that we are mired in all kinds of injustice around the globe as a nation and also have a kind of ongoing, deep practices of injustice. and i think of the book that resonates most for me in this moment is "no name in the street." and that's when in 1972 and baldwin is despairing, and the book sort of reads almost tremendous netically. there's been all this death, the death of his friends, and he's thinking not just about the united states, he's thinking about the global color line. and i think that kind of despair is instructive because that's what it takes to even begin to imagine that we might have have a more moral set of social arrangements or ethical, right, or just. >> marcus hunter, how do you come out on this question; is there an american morality? >> yeah. i would, i would add w.e.
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duboise's name to baldwin in part because they both sort of in their life outside of the u.s., i think for many reasons, and both of them, i think, would argue -- and i thought a lot about "nobody knows my name," in part because i think that baldwin would offer that. there is an american horlty, and art of how you find it is when you start talking about what black people are doing. that's when you find out there are moral shortcomings apparently. the way that black people organize their lives is always outside of whatever american morality that exists. and in part i think what he's trying to get at is what i would call either strategic or slippery morality, right? it's moral until you're a witch in salem. thousand you're outside of it. he even headaches mention of that in "nobody knows my name," the idea that there are people that fall outside of morality at very strategic points, and those people then become the new oppressed, right? and the people who used to be the part of the outside horlty crowd are now inside, and
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they're the ones giving out scarlet letters, calling people things. you know, how the irish became white is because they accepted a certain type of white morality and brought into the idea that black people were less than they were. so part of what i think he's getting at is there is, in fact, one, and unlike previous countries that have a longer history like he estimates with france and england, what you have in america is a place that is always changing, and part of that is, you know, tremendous possibility for what can happen. often people say america is the last chance at freedom, right? so there's these great freedom possibilities, but at the same time because it is always coming into itself and making adjustments and changing, just when you thought black people were free, you have mass incarceration, you know? just when you thought that people value black families, all of a sudden there's a welfare queen. so i think art of what baldwin really reminds us of is that much of what he says still rings true today. why? because the cycles of segregation, poverty, imprisonment continue.
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so when you read his words, it's as if he's talking about american morality right now. so for me it's both a question and a problem i see in that question you asked. >> uh-huh. so finally, jonathan, is there an american morality? >> when -- it's fascinating to go after four people in answering your question. [laughter] so thanks for that. [laughter] when i think of morality, i think of issues like original sin, and i think of to issues like progress as we began the conversation. when i think of this country and original sin, the logic of the country that we now live in is built in the moment of racial -- and the logic of racial slavery and understanding of what liberty and freedom means. it's something not that. if you start building a country with that as a founding logic or morality, as it was built into the system, and you build
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institutions and structures that reaffirm that, sure, there's an american horlty. morality. but is it moral? that's what i think baldwin kept coming back to. no matter which baldwin you're talking about, the baldwin who was trying to make peace with his childhood and his break with his father or going through the waldwomen of deshare later on. and i don't want to focus only on despair, but i'm rivetted by -- i've always been rivetted by this quote which i can, i'm sorry, i'll only be able to paraphrase, but it's a very angry, disappointed baldwin towards the end of his life. he'd been waiting for progress, and he knows all these things, the machinations of an american morality that says blacks aren't really quite human, they don't really have human potential, they don't deserve certain things. and he says to an interviewer who suggests to baldwin, well, these things take time. and he spits back, and this is a
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paraphrase, it's taken my uncle's time, my aunt's time, my grandfather's time, my grandmother's time, my mother's, brother's, sister's, my nephews' and nieces' time, and this is the killer, how much time do you want for your progress? baldwin is waiting for a white american logic that created this system in the first place in colonial america to catch up to its own promise. i'd like to say that in baldwin's wake we've come to that place, but we just know we haven't. so there's a system of belief system, a logic that i think suggests to many americans that we are an exceptional country, and we are, therefore, quite moral. but i know that there is a structure built into this undergirding it all that says something quite different. >> uh-huh, uh-huh. so we've gotten five fascinating
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and overlapping but very different responses to the single question. claudia, you say that there is american, an american morality -- >> a dream of an american morality. >> that there's a dream of an american morality which has not yet within achieved. >> absolutely. >> w59er, you contest -- walter, you cop test the idea that an american morality is something we ought even to want, because as i hear you, you're committed to an idea of pluralism, right? there are many different american moralities. perhaps as many different american moralities as there are americans. imani, you want to remind us of the ways in which in order to even talk about the possibility of an american morality, we have to be mindful of the ways in which that morality has as its close cousins immorality and
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amorality, right? and that we're talking about a moving target in one sense the we look at the actual history and the current realities of life in america. the idea of morality in that sense is internally contested, right? so it's not just something that there are many different forms of, as walter says, but it's internally contested. and, march cuts, you offer the very valuable insight that if you want to know whether there's an american morality and what it is, you would do well to look at the experience of african peoples in america in a very important book called "the miner's canary." two legal scholars say if you want to take the pulse of racial
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justice in america, you would do well to look at the conditions under which black people in this country live. right? so if you want to know whether there's an american morality and its state of health, march cuts is suggesting -- marcus is suggesting, you should look at the situation of african-americans and this border region that we occupy even in this age when the white house has been turned black, right? of being inside and outside at the same, at the same time. and jonathan reminds us that the very idea of america is an idea that was baptized in the original sin of slavery, right?
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and a moral institution and a horl economic institution which is one of the founding pillars of american national identity and the history of america as a nation. so the story i hear is a story informed by baldwin's vision, it's a story of contradiction can, right? is there an american morality? the answer, i think, would have to be yes and no, right? now, looking at the situation of african-americans, right, in 2014, i think it's worth asking if, like baldwin, we are committed to progressive change, right? in the lives of people of african descent in america and,
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thus, in the lives of the nation as a whole, right? is morality, the practice of morality, talking about morality, engaging in collective action that is informed ask aspires to achieve -- and aspires to achieve or live out a certain moral vision the way to go? is that the way to go, right? to the extent that we have not yet achieved our country whether we're talking about political democracy, economic democracy, social democracy or cultural democracy, right? what are the uses and limits of morality of horl -- moral language in undertaking the project that baldwin described, i'm sorry, as such? he once wrote: any real change
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imlies the breakup -- implies the breakup of the world as one has always known us, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety. right? so is this project of breaking up the world as we know it, right? in letting go of and perhaps refashioning identities leaving the refuge or the harbor of safety, is that in some fundamental way a project that is moral or can only take place through the use of moral language, moral ideas and moral
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practices? i'll let you jump in. i won't call on you one time. >> really i will. because, you know, i mean, i mean, baldwin is a success story because of his realization of the world through language. and even when he's despiring, each when he's unhappy, even when he sees most people can't keep up with him, it doesn't matter because he's less like, you know, a legacy. but, you know, whenever i hear that quote, i think of the, of what i've been thinking lately, you know? the thing i realized outside of the notion of the impact of capitalism which has something to do with race, but it has things to do with other things too is the fact that there's
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really no such thing as white people. and for me, that's the place that needs to be broken. you know, you realize that white people were invented by colonization. colonization, you know, especially in the united states where there was a red enemy that had to be destroyed in order to take his or her land, and then there was a black slave who was going to work that land. and in the middle were these europeans who had no race in europe. i mean, they had cultural identities, national identities, regional identities, but they didn't have -- language identities, but they didn't have a color identity like white people, you know? same like black people, you know? it's like there are all kinds of different people, but in america they became white, and the lace to break -- the place to break, i mean, rather than asking things about black people or of black people or for black people is just to say to white people once you realize you don't exist
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as white people, then we'll be fine. [laughter] we'll be fine. once you can no longer use that as recourse to say, oh, well, this is what white people think. there's no such thing as white people. there's no such thing as white people. if you had a piece of white aper and you saw a guy -- paper who saw a guy like that, you would run. zombies really exist, you know? laugh and the idea that, you know, that colors define cultures or people or dna or anything, it's crazy, you know? but, you know, black people know that, and, you know, hispanic people know that, and, you know, all kinds of people know that, just white people don't know it -- [laughter] because, you know, they get interest off that. they have advancement that they can have in the world that things that, you know, they did, you know? like people say, well, you know, we invented electricity. man, you didn't invent electricity, you know? tesla invented electricity.
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edison lied about it, but tesla invented the use of it. it's like there's different, we're all different. and if we recognize and embrace the difference, then we can, you know, that would really break up the whole notion of what america is, and that would allow us to move forward in a way that makes more sense. >> so you're talking about this radical loss. i mean, as i hear you say it -- >> [inaudible] >> recognition of and a rejection of the idea of a white racial identity. >> well, no such thing. yeah, it's a rejection of it, but it's more than a rejection. a rejection is like it's real, but i'm going to get rid of it. it's not real. it doesn't exist. there's no such thing as white people. they don't exist. it's a made-up notion, you know? that came from colonization. and once if people would accept that -- of course; they won't accept it. no, no, i'm white, they say. i'm white. but you're pink, you're tan,
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you're olive, you know? you have this kind of nose or these kinds of eyes or that kind of hair, you know? you're all different, don't you understand that, you know? if they did, then that would be -- but, see, i think that's true. i think beyond morality it's true. it's true that they don't exist. and, but they've made it up and hold it against everybody else. and, in a way, against themselves. >> uh-huh. >> this, i want to just jump in and take it a little bit different, and you can come back to this. it reminds me about how much you learn by leaving what you know. baldwin learned how american he was when he goes off to europe. years ago, 14 years ago now i was teaching a one-week semithat are in china just for an american studies program, it was an exchange program, and my one-week seminar was on american civil rights. and these chinese students from all across china, about 15 of them, were getting a one-week introduction to these themes, all speaking english. they were studying the u.s., had
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a similar familiarity with it. and the week was going along fine with the predictable stumbles and such, and on the next to last day one of the students made an observation that floored me, and your comment just made me think of this. and we were talking about race and civil rights and citizenship, and she simply said -- and it was statement -- without race, america has no meaning. it just disappears. and she stopped me in my tracks with that observation. and that gets back to my earlier comment about originalism and sort of the logic of this country. so from a thought experiment, i think that's brilliant. but we can't ignore the realities that have grown out of that, of these decisions people made. so that, you know, this racial codification we live with is a construction, but, boy be, it's had material life and death
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consequences, and it stays with us today. so it would be a terrifying notion to many people, maybe everybody in some way, to break that. we lose our meaning as a nation. we lose our meaning as a people, whatever -- that's a fully-loaded statement, of course. but it's a fascinating thought experiment. i think baldwin's right. i don't know how you headache that step -- how you make that step and what happens if you do make that step. it's a terrifying prospect. >> i'm wondering, though, if baldwin were here, do you think he would be urging us to give up race and give up racial identity? were he here having lived through our recent past, right? would he say we should give up race? >> i'm just saying that white people should give can up race. [laughter]
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i don't think he would argue about that. you mean there wouldn't be any more white people? okay. [laughter] you know? that would be be fine, you know? [laughter] i don't think he would mind that. you know? because there's no -- it doesn't get us one way or the other for black people or hispanic people or asian people to give up their identity, you know? for women to give up the notion of gender or men to, you know? yeah, i don't think -- maybe he would, i don't know. i don't know the guy. i met him once, but with i was a little kid. he was nice. laugh but, you know, i mean, you know, it would be a wonderful game to play. i think, i think he'd let it lay out a little bit. i don't think he would try to stop it. i think he'd let it play out. >> he'd work with the idea a little bit. >> yeah. >> well, it depends on when you catch him in his life. one thing imani said later on there was a lot more, after the death of king, a lot more
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bitterness. even in the '90s it -- '80 it sounds not so strong when i say it when i paraphrase him, but baldwin was an artist above all things, and he needed this kind of empathy to write, as he said. he grew up with a lot of hatred in him, and he tells you this very clearly early on. i couldn't function if i hated the way my father, my stepfather hated. it destroyed him, and hatred destroys you. and because he was so dedicated a writer, with hatred i would not be able to write. you have to be able to imagine even your worst enemies in the round, so to speak. if i present the awful white sheriff as a stereotype, i'm not an artist anymore. and one of the things i found fascinating about baldwin that the compassion for all people that he felt was necessary for him to be a writer, an artist, is also what he brings to the political scene. and even after all this despair
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and hatred and witterness and there are -- bitterness and there are scenes where his biographers talk of him in '84 reading an essay about harlem he's written in the '40s and is just raging and saying nothing's changed, and yet in these last essays there's an's say about manhood towards the end, and he says i still believe we are all black and white, we are all male and female, that these categories are false in a way, and if we could ever -- the we could ever, and this is something he says from 1951 on, if we could ever take advantage of what we have, of our horrible racial history instead of aspiring to be a european, racially-homogeneous white country where black people are a disturbance, if we could realize what the african-american contribution is and what it does for the white people, and it's the white people he's talking about with that quote you read
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about how hard it is to remake your world, to break yourself open, to give up safety, that is actually baldwin trying to extend himself to say this is why it's so hard for them. they don't know, they're too afraid to take the next step. they're just scared. this is their safety, and you don't have to think about race, you can think about the images we saw last week in mariana, texas, people showing up at the border terrified, a bunch of guatemalan children being brought in. people are terrified of taking a step out of their safety, and that's the point he was making. but i think he did look forward. he says someday if this country could only take advantage of this racial past because, yeah, i mean, the flipside of that comment about that your student made that america is about nothing if it's not about race was baldwin himself saying the contact and the history of a white and plaque in this country, however horrible it has been, is also the most significant and potentially powerfully good thing about this country if we can ever get rid
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of these old, stupid ideas about being a homogeneous culture and take advantage of what we've got. so i don't -- >> so in a way what i'm hearing is to the extent that we can speculate about what baldwin would say today based on the legacy that he left us of his life in writing, he would invite us to do something that particularly at this moment of yearning in some quarters for the postracial has been dismissed and devalued. namely, he would invite us to think of it as a productive resource, right? and not to get anxious in the face of the fact, the truth that
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without race america has no meaning, right? and to engage, right? to engage this history, to engage this vast, complicated, internally-riven, contradictory idea and history of race in a way that puts it in the service of freedom, right? that makes it a resource on which all of us can draw to move toward that place of achieving our country that requires what we -- what a late french philosopher and poet called the politics of discomfort, right?
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and here, i suppose, we might want to shift a little bit. we've been talking about morality, and it will stay with us. but i want to talk for a bit about democracy and to focus a bit on some intimations in baldwin's writing that the very possibility of achieving democracy in america is connected in some important way to love, right? he writes again and again about the importance of love. what do you make of that insistence on baldwin's part that love is a crucial resource
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given our history for the achievement of racial democracy in america? imani, do you want to -- >> so i just, i want to go back for a second but come back to this question of love, because i do think that part of the reason so many of -- a question like that is vexed, i think, is because of a particular political and economic moment. so if we talk about in the context, right, of kind of contemporary, neoliberal capitalism where every arena of life is markettized, where our policy, our jurisprudence is organized around maximizing opportunities for competition and how that pushes people who are on the margins, the least of these, even further into positions of marginalization because there's not, there's a reduced sense of the common good can, right? that we are all supposed to be
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entrepreneurs in the world in every african school, even prisons, every arena. so for me, the call for the centrality of love is, in part, about a conception of who we are as human beings in the context of a nation or in the context of a world that is more, it's kind of a comprehensive humanity. so if we think about law, for example, being based upon conventional cop senses of reason -- conceptions of reason, right? and when you have that combined with an order that makes everything about whether you are successful on the market and not about the common good and not about the public welfare and the like, then there's a kind of, there's a kind of cruelty that grows up. and also an incentive for people to to take advantage of longstanding bigotries, right? was if you're trying to max -- because if you're trying to maximize your competition, of course you want to take advantage of whatever advantage you have.
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so in some sense this sense of responsibility to your fellow resident or citizen or the people around you or your neighbor toss the south, right? it falls by the wayside. and so i think a kind of, a sense of the ethics around love is, in part, a sense of a responsibility to engage with other beingings, right, as full beings, right? not as numbers, not as commodities, not as opportunities to maximize capital and the like. and so for me in this moment it is, you know, we read it now, it's a call to go back to, you know, it was always deeply flawed, but at least in previous eras there was a sense of the common good, right? and i think that that's, i think that's a central part of this. >> i would add that my reading of baldwin relevant the notion of love and politics is in part
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out of his biography, right? so part of what you get is his sort of coming to terms with his love of america, coming to terms with his love of black people and black culture, coming to terms with the love of his sexual orientation. and part of what i think is important about love particularly around politics and black liberation is that it is in many ways, it becomes part of the black political kool-aid you have to drink in order to get ahead, right? so the idea the is we've been taught not to love ourselves, right? and then when you get into the sort of continuum that is blackness, we're also told that gay black people didn't exist until yesterday when they wanted to get married when, in fact, you know, i often say to students when they say the great migration and this and that, i say, you know, black gay people were great migrants as well, you know? as long as there have been black people here, there have been gay people here, and what you have in baldwin is this conundrum of trying to reconcile that, and i think the way he comes through
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that which is why he advises love is love. self-love, understanding that with americans. there's this unrequited love for america, so you often feel like the bob marley song, you're waiting in vain, you know, for the love. 300 years i've been sitting at your doorstep, you know? [laughter] you're wonder, are they going to love you? and i think on the point about unrequited love and the sort of idea and waiting, i think one very powerful moment at least for me when i was even thinking about writing black city makers was this idea that at some point black americans, they pull out a boat along the southeast seaboard and say you can go to liberia if you want. and many people stayed. many people stayed. and so part of the idea there is how do you come to terms with being in love with a place that you helped build that doesn't include you? so i think what he wants to do is sort of say, well, you know, the opposite of love is hate, hating only gets you so far, but
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what if you love? love more than you can ever love before. and part of getting there is loving one another, often times it's loving the continuum that is black people. black people are not just, you know, stand-up preachers, doctors and lawyers, they're also pros -- prostitutes, strippers and all sorts of people. and i think what he's saying is that to understand love is to understand all of the flaws of what that means and take it on its own terms and move forward with that. if you can't do that, you are not going to have the america that you're looking for. >> i always like a moment of silence during panel, don't you? [laughter] just to kind of let things sit. and marinate for a while. i'm intrigued by this ons ovation or the connection you headache -- you make between baldwin's writings on the ethics of love as a public value,
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right? because he's not talking about private relations, intimate relations. he's talking about love as a public value. is and you seem to tie that, in part at least, to the fact that baldwin was a man who loved men and that his unique experience. he first left harlem, right? and then he left america. he said, he wrote once -- and this is a sentence which has been very important in my own intellectual life -- that he criticized america because he loved her, right? and and i've suggested that our love, for example, as gay men and lesbians for black america demands no less, right? we criticize homophobia and
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sexism in the black community because we love black america, right? so let's stay for a moment with this idea of an african-american morality or an ethics of love, a black american ethics of love which goes in two directions, right? one direction is toward our fellow americans, but the other is inward, right? the love that we bare toward one another. and love becomes a resource for the development, the nurturing, the support, mutual support and sustenance of a black public which can then engage with
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larger political society to argue about, debate, deliberate and make decisions about the race publica, right? our common welfare. is that a useful way of thinking about what baldwin can offer us and what baldwin's ethics of love can offer us at this moment in the life of harlem and in the life of the united states? harlem is the name. brooklyn is -- wouldn't agree with this, but i'm using harlem as the name for something which we might call black america which is itself an imagined, constructed thing, right? >> right. i like the point that you brought up and the passage that you recalled is from -- [inaudible] l i remember that particular part because he ends it, and i think of baldwin as a social
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scientist in particular. so among a lot of the terms that he gives way to a social concept, one of them that he sort of ends the autobiographical note on that is very moving is that what goes on internally for people while we don't value it in our society, we think about it as, you know, a sort of prif central issue, peripherally important, he suggests it is exactly why we live the way that we do. your internal strivings, your internal sense of love. so the reason why love is important is because it's both an external and internal concept. so one is walking around self-loathing, hating, in rage. his idea is that then gets expressed on other people. this then leads to all sorts of stagnancy, the inability to progress to wherever it is that we're trying to go. so i think what he's trying to put there is to reorient the idea of love so we just don't think about it as what we to to each other. like, oh, i love you, do you love yourself? because if you don't, you find
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it has political ramifications. people, for example, don't think of certain people as american. they don't love them that way. and part of it is because in many cases there is something going on for them that makes them feel outside of the american perspective. so part of that is back to the earlier point i was making about just i how elusive americanness is in the first place. there are people who barely feel in it themself, and they project that onto other people, and what he's trying to say is, you know, we're all we've got. we're all here on the same body of land. black people have stayed long after slavery, so we become as culpable and accountable for everything else. part of what happens is we're hating each other, we're mad at each other, we're not going to get very far. we're still here in this place taking ownership over it whether we like it or not. >> yeah. baldwin as an american, an american if figure and an american writer is really important to emphasize, i think, and even when he -- in the great letter he writes to his nephew which is in the beginning of
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"the fire next time," he lays it out very straight and very harshly and in ways that would ring true right now. he says he was born in the ghetto in a society meant to keep you there. they gave you nothing but with mediocrity to live up to, but important thing is that you never think this is your fault, that racism is a white pathology. it's not your fault. and the most important thing again, and this goes back to your saying you have a chance to leave, you could go somewhere, and baldwin himself, as we know, left. left. he kept coming back, and he kept coming back, and he kept living, and he said, well, it's from far away i can see america better, but he couldn't bear it. but what he says to his nephew is, you're an american, god dam it, and don't let them tell you you're not. and he says it comes up in different ways throughout all his writing. i was one of the first americans to be brought here, you know? we have made contributions here. we are the americans here, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. >> uh-huh. >> i love that, that letter is
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devastating and beautiful and provocative, but i also read it as a dare, you know? it's dare to imagine a world that can't imagine you. and you've got to do that kind of work whether it's recuperative work, fantasy, just hard work or policy work. you've got to do it, and thinking about love and self-love, i can just imagine -- never had the honor of meeting the man, but i can imagine him just cracking a wide smile that was also, that had a lot of anger in it, too, but in that smile that would issue a dare. dare to love one another. >> uh-huh. >> there's that great quote, and i think you mentioned it earlier before the session started. oh, goodness, i'm blanking on it now, but it speaks to how much in common, that white and black have so much in common, we aren't rared to believe in it
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yet -- prepared to believe in it yet. and he wanted to dare us to do that. and that could be, you know, within the black community, it could cross any kind of line you want it to. but that love is not -- i guess it goes back to what marcus was saying. it's not a romantic love. you know, it's a love filled with passion. it's an angry, engaged, robert frost lovers' quarrel with the world kind of love. that's hard. it's hard to sustain, and it's hard to get other people to believe in it because it requires a lot of self-reflection in a way that people don't want to do. that's heavy work. but baldwin was such a master of the internal workings. i mean, he's working things out in his words all the time for all of us, and i think inviting us to join him on that journey. >> that love jive, sweetheart -- he writes in another country -- love, love, love.
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>> that's a beatles' song. oh, no. you know, i'm a little confused -- [laughter] be you know, because it seems to me that i think there's three levels. number one, you know, it's like, you know, i'm comparing baldwin to jazz. i think it's a good thing to do because, you know, it's just like, you know, hearing, you know, if we loan yous monk or maybe cornel west one day, and you ask somebody be, that was great, and, oh, it is, what was great? like tell me? you know? and, you know, oh, it's hard to remember. when it comes to felonious monk, you can't do it, you know what i mean? [laughter] you have to go, you have to, you know, like, like go there, you know? so the possibility, you know, like, the possibility of listening to the dalai lama telling me, you know, how, indeed can, i'm going to approach the world, you know? i said, well, that's the dalai
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lama talking. i think he might be able to do it, or at least he believes he can do it. so first, you know, does love cause conflict. to me, i think that love causes conflict as much as anything else in the world. and the second thing which we kind of -- it seemed it kind of got lost a little bit in there was the notion of democracy. because, you know, like, look, i mean, i love my candidate, and my candidate says he loves me -- or she loves me -- and then, and i vote for him or her, and out of this love, and so there's a good chance that they're going to represent me except for the 250,000 lobbyists that corporate america and the corporate world hires that lives in the washington, d.c. area to visit him every day, and they say, listen, whatever you like, whatever perversion, whatever money, you know, when you leave this, i got a million dollar job for you doing what i'm doing right now, you know? and it's like i don't, i never talk to them because they're in d.c.
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and, you know, part of -- so part of the thing is, yeah, let's talk about love, but let's not be, like, crazy and think that, you know, we're enlightened and that our love is, you know, going to be accepted and it's not going to bring us into conflict. and secondly, just to understand the practicality of democracy. democracy is, you know, owned lock, stock and barrel by capitalism in america, and it's fascist capitalism. it's not that free capitalism where i can go out in the street and sell candy bars out of a box. i get alet'sed for that, you know? -- arrested for that. it's the people who have the most money and the most power and the most people in their pocket be, that's the democracy we're talking about. be -- and so there's a fear in my mind even listening to this to think, well, if my feelings are pure enough and my love is strong enough, that's going to make a good democracy. i doubt it. >> because we're talking, when we talk about democracy, this is the walter mosley thesis, when we talk about democracy -- [laughter]
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we're not talking about love, we're talking about power and interest, right? [applause] be and what love asks of us, love is another name for concern and respect for the other, right? other regarding -- >> this my own terms, yeah. >> right? >> which are flawed. it's love and respect for the other in my own terms which are flawed. >> uh-huh. >> so just to say that i'm able to love. >> right. >> even me saying that might not be true. >> well, but baldwin recognizes that impossibility, right? he recognizes the impossibility, and at the same time he says the impossible is the least one can demand, right? so love is the name for an aspiration, right? and at the heart of it is a deep humanism. it's the same humanism, perhaps, that is at the heart of the south african notion of -- speak
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speak. [speaking in native tongue] the idea that people are people only through other people, right? and that the possibility of knowing and living our own humanity is dependent on the extent to which we are willing to recognize and honor the humanity of the other or of another, right? and that act of mutual recognition, um, is part of the same moral field, if i can use that word, as love even if we might not -- sophisticates that we have -- want to use the word "love." but love is the name for a whole complex constellation of ideas and practices and challenges or dares, as jonathan put down,
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that take us outside of the understanding of democracy as being only about power and interest. >> you say "willing," and also i want to stop you for just one second. you saying willing, but it's alo capable. i'm willing to love, but there's also a question of whether you're capable of loving. this person, this person, this person, do they all have the same capability for love? again with, i doubt it. >> uh-huh. >> so maybe i think what might be useful or useful for me to think about this question of love in the context of baldwin's life is to think, and we just spoke a minute ago about his return, his expatriation and return. and if we recall there in the early '60s he returns because of his being inspired by the civil rights movement, right? he says on multiple occasions various forms of, you know, the artists are important, but the revolution has to come from the people. and there's a sense in which i think his practice of love,
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particularly in light of the kind of heights and celebrity and popularity he achieved, are in part instructive for thinking about this question with respect to capital and power, right? so this 1963 he goes to have this meeting with rfk, and there's belafonte's there and lena horne and lorraine handsbury and the like, and this is in light of the birmingham campaign, and rfk is hoping that these black political leaders, prominent artistic and political leaders will be able to quell unrest in the cities. and they turn this, this group of people turn the question back on rfk and say, first of all, we refuse to go out and offer palliatives to black people. and the question instead is what are you prepared to do, right? and i think that that's the kind of practice of love that is not dependent upon -- so that there's not in that moment a concern with kind of individual access and the kind of heights
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they might attain by doing the service, but instead, right, at every moment continuing to be kind of unflinching, right, and ethical in terms of the kind of values of what that kind of world would look like. ..
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it's about -- it's of little bit about not demonizing of the people of differing with you and keeping -- again -- and again, it is also true that it is biographical, very strong statement. so important to his life and language. if you read through these essays you would be startled to come across the metaphors and similes he has with the relationship, even with what he went through. it is a wedding, family, blood ties, we have been through all of this. you may not know it yet, what you will. this is what it is. it runs through this language, maybe from childhood. it is what -- it is how he got through his life with the poison that was poured into him. if he did not hold on to this idea i think he would have been overwhelmed. he says he would have been overwhelmed.
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he talks about how we give our children an antidote for all the poisons that are being fed. and for one moment, and it is a rare moment. do we really want an end to dutch? maybe they should just have more poisons of their own. that is so rare moment where you can almost feel the anger that he is constantly tamping down and reasoning with and pushing away is because he can't live with it, and it is not helpful in his heart or in the cost, but you can feel it. >> so on this question, perhaps you will leave it. i will leave it by simply noting that we are having a discussion on this stage at the schomburg center about love and politics
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at the moment in our collective political life in this country at least 1/8 is no longer -- almost no longer possible to think of the person on the other side of the aisle as your political opponent. they have to be your adversary or enemy. so under conditions in which the very possibility of democracy must contend with a language and practice in which we treat one another as americans as the we were citizens of different countries, there is something to be said for the recuperation of the ethics, the political ethics , the political morality that baldwin wrote so powerfully
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and from many of us persuasively about in terms of the idea of love. and yet speaking mindful of the city in which this conversation is taking place and yet we still live in a society, we live in a city whose public school system, as i speak, is the most racially segregated in the united states, in the united states. a city which arguably prides itself on the celebration of difference and cultural and other kinds of pluralism. >> integrated subways.
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>> we just go to places. >> i have a question. i mean, you know, it becomes very complex. i think that baldwin was a really great thinker. and somebody that one would want to read just retort. i am living in a place, everybody in here has a cell phone, right? you cannot really complain. i have one. and we all are wearing all kinds of clothes and have all kinds of ship that was made in china. they paid as people like $0.16 an hour to build the chip that we are buying. they're is a notion -- i love my cellphone, but, you know -- and i call my mother and tell our lover. the problem is is that there is
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such -- you have to be so paid to take these motions. baldwin was that big. baldwin took those motions. baldwin did that. i can't pretend that i am there with him. well, yeah, he is great, but i am using my cellphone. looking at this is smart phone that i want to buy. and so that means that as many women will get raped and as many people get killed. and i know. blood chocolate, blood, you know, there is blood on everything that comes out of africa. we are talking about the diamonds. it's cool. look at those blood diamonds. we are doing it, two. we are deeply involved in an economic politics that is a pressing the entire world.
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[applause] and it is all good and well to talk about baldwin, but it is really hard to be baldwin. that is why i was daunted about coming to this thing. you can talk about felonious mark, but i can't play the piano, you know, and that seems to be -- i don't mean to be to confessional about it, but you know,. i don't care. but in order to understand the world real living in a more weird going and the lengths that we would have to go to make that world a better world regardless of race or nationality, that becomes a big issue. and that is the question. i think our would ask it of baldwin. i know what he would say, and i don't think that i could do it. >> i guess i think there is something out to disrobing all
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of the fiction. you just made this point earlier about the way that we treat each other as though we're enemies. and those of us who are treating each other as a we were enemies is happening right in the midst of wealth being redistributed up words, and so there is this sense, i think, that we live with some many factions. we demonize one desperate but not the other. so i guess i think that there is some value of simply beginning a practice of telling the truth. telling the truth with some humility understanding that we are all deeply implicated. but that alone seems to me to be a precursor to even beginning the process of trying to do something better. sven. >> i am intrigued by this idea of truth telling because truth
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arguably is like morality but a plural thing. there are many different truths. >> hunger or violence. >> right. but the truth, this practice of truth telling, if we think of it as something that is a purpose, directed toward a specific purpose, might that purpose given what of brother and sister at that end of the aisle are saying about capitalism today, capitalism and democracy, neil liberal democracy and the threat of kneele liberal capitalism and the threat that neil liberal capitalism poses to the ideal democracy, this practice of truth telling which perhaps
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walter moseley would agree with as a special calling of the writer, this practice aimed at creating or reviving, giving new life to renewing the culture of solidarity which may be a more pragmatic way to think about what we have been talking about, this idea that our faiths of linked. we are all in this thing together. we are all going to face the scarcity of clean air, of clean water. though 1 percent can run, but it cannot hide from the hatred that we are showing toward the planet what is the relationship between this hard work of telling the
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truth, not just about the other person but ourselves, ourself funds, our clothes that are made in sweatshops. what is the relationship between that truth telling and solidarity? that would be one question. and so those of us to ride, have a unique location in that regard and trying to tell as best we can the truth about the way that we live now. in order to create the conditions for at least a conversation about recovering this very fragile and precarious tradition of solidarity that the black civil rights movement among other social movements in this country held up the bloodstained pander to champion.
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>> i would offer a point about truth relating to my experience in writing my book. i am from philadelphia. >> the city that don't love brothers. [applause] [laughter] so i grew up not too far from the neighborhood. for people who are not aware, following to figure out what happened to the philadelphia negro after the publication. i bring this point up to say that so much of what i found was a complete revelation because i did not realize how fragile. we often think about what i grew up with, the 40 acres and a meal . as long as we can remember some
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much so spike lee has named his production company that name. there was this thing, 1874, upwards of a billion dollars. i would like to underscore, a billion dollars of black people's money. and also just to say on that particular point, not only did i find that it was difficult to recover the particular piece of formation but that point black media become central and trying to recover what should be a black truth or a truth about american more generally. we stopped talking about campaign promises and really talk about hard core, you know, cash money that people never got. i think about it as black peoples first money. this was the money you were allowed to have, your first money you lost and never got back. frederick douglass, w. t. de bois, booker t. washington, they never agree about anything. they all agree, and i would say
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extrapolate to the contemporary moment, this mistrust that there are opportunities occur, economic opportunities for black people, looking ahead, but your money in a bank and never get it back. these are the sorts of troops that i think necessary so that we get off of some of the existing lps that we play all the time, black truth and really think about some of these other ones that have a real impact, we do today. some tied to 1865-74. many of us don't know that. we get a sub prime mortgage and our money and have to move out of the house. we don't understand why you give your money to the church. and then on her birthday you get this paycheck. that was a way of doing savings.
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these are things that other people use to measure by morality. they don't use banks. that is bad behavior. really is informed by other black true is that we don't even know because we don't know that we don't know we don't know. [applause] says. >> i am intrigued by this idea of the production. continuing to produce a black truth at a time when the very idea that we can speak truth that is rooted in our unique location in society is being challenged. and in which a others presume to tell us what our truth is.
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then the law school i read all the time, the supreme court opinions in which the supreme court is telling me that black people's right to vote this not being denied, devalued, or denigrated anywhere in these united states of america. we can vote as easily as any other citizen or that our schools are as scarce as the schools and in the neighborhood anywhere in the united states.
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anyone in los supreme court, the current supreme court comes very close to embracing the idea from the notorious 1896 opinion. black people are serve truth in which we continue to be marginalized, excluded, disadvantaged, discriminated against, it is because we are paranoid. we are imposing a fan schismatic false perspective on the egalitarian realities of life. so what is the special work that we as riders can do to articulate to give specifics and
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to insist on the value of giving specifics. at the moment at our history or even some of us are ambivalent about the idea that there is a distinctively black perspective, the shared lewd experience, the material realities one might say of life for black americans of all class's. >> what do you mean by writings? >> people will put words on paper. >> on paper or who throw words out into the digital public sphere. >> okay. all right. i just want to make sure what you mean.
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>> people engaged in public conversation. >> a lot of people who don't read too much. that is the first. of course when you write people read it and acknowledge its, you know, out of the world further and further. if you read things a you feel are true and to the point you realize you will do less well. so that is a painful same but the thing that i think you have to go with. also a lot of people would just speak out. poets camino, people like me now matthews in chicago speaking out about was going on in chicago. anyone who uses language i would move in our little bit. if i remove riders then i cut down why audiences. i know that there is already an
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economic system against writers in general. and so just trying to figure out how the woodwork. personally, talking about american the way that i see america which is close to the way that it is, probably not exactly, but close. i think that is helpful, but i don't think that it is enough. >> enough to do what? >> to have anybody take their cell phone out of a pocket and thing, while, this is a san. this should be the 11th send in the bible. to really end the stand, you know, to really understand you we are in the world him what we're doing, criticizing all kinds of other people and it's
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easy to do. but who i am, what i am doing, and that is to actually identify the writer and reader with the essential truth. >> you asked what we need to do as writers. what can we do to offer some sort of truth to raise consciousness as something like that? and trained as a historian. this country is exquisitely get at ignoring history, exclusively and we all are implicit in that project. so what i suggest is if we dare to become even moderately decent historians so that we can understand how we got to this point many of he will know the essay in the atlantic are reparations. does it matter.
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what he calls for is our recognition in terms of how we got to this point, why he thinks the call makes sense. you must realize, policies, human beings who make policies a long time ago or even in the g.m. bill or insurance redlining, people make policies that have shaped the way we live our lives and create narrative's . create narratives that make presumptions about how sleazy black people are, how they are welfare queens are now they are consumers of the worst kind. they have no sense of delayed gratification. our policies that are driving the kind of logic and a presumption about who we are as individuals. if we don't take the time to know what these policies are to the creation of a gi bill, the commitment to make sure blacks cannot live in certain areas, funnelling toward other areas,
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superfund sites. if we don't open our eyes to the past and to decisions that made as -- put us where we are today we're going to be stuck. as simple as that. granted, i am speaking for my own industry. we have to take the time to explore our own path, words and all. to have an honest recognition of how we got where we are. >> laying the responsibility. >> i think writers in specific locations have that responsibility. i'm being a bit liberal in a sense, but i think that consumers have the responsibility as well in the spirit of what you're talking about, but actually taken the time to pick up books and read.
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that is a steep mountain to climb, a steep mountain climb. already. but if we don't make the effort, if we don't try, if we don't tell our students and their children to do this work of another kind of work will be done for us. so it is on all of us to do hard work. yes, it is hard. it may be impossible. we go back to people like frederick douglass, you can to go across without thunderstorms. anything worth having, reality to it, anything worth having should not come that easily. it is not value. creating a logic in a system that ends up with a permanent underclass and people who are searching for fresh water, that is hard work to get to that
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point. somebody invested the time and made the decisions and wrote the laws and practices. now we're at a point where this is not raise speaking. cultural practices and this law does not have any dissert impact just happenstance. >> well, disparate impact is not intentional. >> exactly. we will create a lot. that is just happenstance. >> it is not happenstance. >> on the point you mentioned, the sociology and parties around what he charges particularly black and white, a special added . later a cause this is specialness. when you encounter words that don't include you you cannot identify. that distance between you and
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what is on the page creates web when called the mask. double consciousness, a special attitude which means that you look at shakespeare and you're already saying the were not a part of it. take that special attitude and in many ways use the imagination and prayers of there. we are not included. they don't expect black people to play instruments. what if we just came from some other ships and landed here in the bay area. boutique collins just had a bass guitar. even though you are not included , the special attitude to my just to bring him back in some ways, this idea that if you are a big tree we will cut you down. the idea is the attitude, you can cut it down. not included.
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appropriate that special attitude, use it as a way to interrogate yourself and put it forward to people so that they can receive it. >> something really -- he believed in the universality with dollars sarton salt. he often said, right about race because i am to get of the way. and when rosa parks, montgomery, in paris finishing gm pawnees ring, but that has no black characters of all. for him that is a kind of freedom not to be confined by his skin, not to be the person it was a write about whoever he wanted to write about him whenever he wanted to write about and in that was absolutely crucial. i know also there is a firestorm years ago, there are about called the confessions of nat turner. at that time baldwin was living in a studio in connecticut
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finishing some work. they were good friends. that is what we do. we are riders. we can imagine what we want. ..
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>> imperfect and impossible as it , right, is a crucial resource perhaps in this project of building and nurturing solidarity, right? if we believe that solidarity is an indispensable component to the work of democratic progress. imani? >> yeah. i agree with everything that has been said, although i have a particular interest in asserting that i don't -- i think of blackness as vast. it is not a containment, it's
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not a confinement, and it has a depth and breadth to it, and i think even as an object of study, so if i think about the question slightly differently not, perhaps, the responsibility of the writer, but the responsibility of the intellectual, for me, right, part of the responsibility of the intellectual, for example, when writing, when i wrote a book on race and what racial equality looks like, it's actually a kind of rigor in examination, right? there are dominant ways of talking about race, one of them being that perhaps we live the vestiges of the past but not talking about the ongoing practices of racial inequality. for me that meant not just reading in sociology, in politic, in neuroscience to understand that there are patterns, that there are narratives, there are patterns, there are cumulative practices. if you go to buy a car, if you go to the hospital, everywhere you go in life when you look at the patterns, black people are disadvantaged. and they're disadvantaged based
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upon individual decision making. so people have learned to treat black people in an inferior fashion. so for me, looking at that particular problem, right, of how racial inequality works today opens up all these other, all these pathways. and i think, you know, so i think that there is this, you know, there's this kind of aspiration to transcend the particulars of who you are, but also to go deep with the particulars to illuminate thing that are necessary for the world to see, particularly around questions of the persistence of injustice and inequality. and in the way that, you know, even when you survey black folks, the way that people talk about racial inequality is such a shawl fraction of how -- small fraction of how comprehensive it is in every aspect of our lives. >> i agree. i think that's wonderful, the notion of, like, you know, who we are. and then when you say black intellectual, that becomes a
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much larger kind of thing, you know, because there's, like, anybody knows in the library, there's whole bunches of intellectuals that don't have a agree degree, they don't have anything else, and they know stuff. they know stuff that i don't know. and is they certainly know it in ways that i don't know. which i think is wonderful. i can think of an example of something. i don't know exactly how it's used because, listen, if you want to talk about books, that's all good and well, but people watch television, they watch movies, they watch computer screens, and stories are being told to them, and we have to be aware of that. and i'm trying to, i'm trying to do a lot of stuff in hollywood, but i'm trying to do this one show, and it's based on a character. i wrote, you know, a crime guy, crime novel guy, and the people who are ruing it called me up and and said -- producing it called me up and said we would like for this to be open casting, the main character. because, you know, there's really no reason for him to be black.
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none. none. [laughter] there's no reason for him to be black. [laughter] i said, well, it's up to you, there ain't no reason for you to be black, you know? why you black? [laughter] you know? it's like -- [laughter] but these are really powerful because they have lots and lots of money. they've done all these shows that you've watched many times, and they were asking me a question, but they weren't really asking me a question. [laughter] and so i went, well, you know, he does have to be black. [laughter] it can't be open casting, he has to be black. now, of course, open casting means he's going to be white, so -- [laughter] i said he has to be black, and they asked me why, and i said because i'm walter mosley, that's why. [laughter] [applause] now, they could have said no. they ended up saying yes, you
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know? they could have said no. but it's really, there's a moment of importance of, like, that work to be confident. let me tell you, there are a lot of black people in hollywood. if somebody be said that, they'd say, okay, you know? and really, you worry about the money you make. and you know the people next to you are not worried. if you go hungry, the people next to you are not going to worry about you. that's pretty much a fact. we live in america. but the idea is that we have to go beyond that and say anyway, but it's very difficult. because you asked about writing, you know? it kind of bounces kind of off in my head. yeah, writing, right? who listens to writers? i mean, other than this room, you know? [laughter] but it has to do with movies and records and television and all that stuff. you have to, you have to, like, actually stand up, you know? because i said to them, i said, look, if people -- black people have read this book. now, if they see it on it's with a white -- on television with a
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white guy, they're going to be had at me. [laughter] i don't want these people being mad at me. [laughter] i'm sewed to be writing about -- supposed to be writing about black male heroes, so he has to be black. [applause] i think that's a really important thing to do. >> well, you raise a very important idea that some black intellectuals have criticize the notion that the black intellectual has a responsibility to the black public, right? the black intellectual has responsibilities to the broader public, but the black intellectual can stand on and assert unapologetically a commitment to the notion that she has a specific responsibility to the black or african-american community. >> uh-huh. >> and i just want to emphasize
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that, y'all, walter mosley just said -- [laughter] that the african-american intellectual can choose, and it's a choice. >> yeah. >> right? and that's the difference between an intellectual practice, neoliberal intellectual practice, let us call it, or intellectualism, intellectual practices under capitalism which is market driven, right? and which are about maximizing your investment, specifically in the human capital; that is, your intellect. in market relationships in order to, um, further your self-interest. >> right. >> and a very different vision, right, of the intellectual vocation whether it be writing or singing or whatever, um, which is connected to some notion of solidarity, right? that doesn't mean the community calls the shots about what you put down on paper. but it does mean that you are
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mindful that the work you do even though you're doing it in the privacy of your study or wherever you write, right, is indesociably connected in a productive, fruitful, life-enhancing way. >> whether right. >> to the larger black public outside the room, right? and we are all mindful that as we engage in this conversation together, what we are doing is connected to a broader public, a broader racial public made up of some black folk but also made up of others which is connected to us sol daristically concern. >> all right. [laughter] >> how about that? [laughter] even though we don't know them,
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right? and we're nell meet them, right -- we'll never meet them, right? >> yeah. >> and we don't need to apologize to anybody for engaging as members of black civil society, right? of a black civil society, again, in which not all of us are black, right? which is committed to the idea that we are doing work that advances the condition of freedom, the possible conditions of freedom that we know in this country as african-americans and that folks in other countries can know, right? as well. so it is in that spirit, in the spirit of recognizing that we are all intellectuals, that we're now going to turn to the next and final piece of this
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afternoon's discussion, ask that's a discussion -- and that's a discussion in which you are all responsible for participating, right? so -- >> kendall, and i want to say these brilliant authors' books will be outside. they'll be signing their texts right outside after the panel. would invade you to join this incredible round table conversation. >> okay, there's one mic? >> one mic. >> right here. >> and keep them to questions. that'd be wonderful. >> yeah. >> so if what you say is not in the form of a question, i will let you know. [laughter] all right, move -- [inaudible conversations] yes. >> good afternoon. thank you. >> good afternoon. >> thank you very much for a brilliant, enlightened conversation. your spirits, your minds, your souls, putting it and focusing it through your intellectual capability be, thank you for that. that was an excellent product.
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i'd like to ask very simply, are capitalism and democracy completely incompatible? >> they're not the same thing. i don't know if they're completely incompatible. socialism and democracy aren't necessarily incompatible. capitalism is about wealth and the distribution of wealth, and so it's just not the same thing. the question is, is to what degree does democracy control capitalism and vice versa. that's always the question to be asking. because, you know, capitalism is naturally a fascist organization. you know, the richest people are on top, and the poorest people are on bottom, you know, and all the wealth is going up. and democracy supposedly works against them. if you don't have that tension, which we don't have in america today, you have a problem. >> okay. that's it. thank you very much. >> this follows, i think. i just wanted to go back to the
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baldwin quote: any real change implies the break up of the world as we know it and leaving the refuge of safety. and i just wanted to say what did it take to get rid of slavery? a civil war that killed more people than any other war up til that time. and, but was cataclysmic and was essential. and i just want to pose to the panel, i mean, going beyond solidarity and thinking about could, and could you really do anything that would ameliorate any of what we've been talking about today short of a revolution? and i would just like to posit that i don't think it's because people don't want to give up their cell phones, but people don't have any sense that another world is possible that would be a world worth living in. and i'm from revolution books. there is such a strategy, and
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people should come and talk with us about it. but i would like to, you know, pose -- >> is there an alternative to revolution? >> no, that's not my question. >> or is revolution the only way? >> my question is, can anyone on the panel talk about the -- could you actually do this short of revolution, and could anyone talk about the positive possibility of actually making revolution and getting to a world where it isn't dog eat dog and you don't have capitalism, you know, as a -- >> thank you. thank you. i think we have the spirit of the question. >> i would -- >> is there another way called revolution, and what would revolution look like? would it have to be a violent revolution? >> well, yeah, that reminds me of angela davis' point that a revolution actually isn't about
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war, but actual unseeding of previous convention and a sort of inserting of new ideologies which is very scary to people because as much as race is a problem and it's organized our lives in such ways that the idea of there being no race is very disorienting for people. so i think part of it isn't necessarily thinking about revolution with a big r, but a small r and an s added on to it. i think part of how you get there is something that i completely agree with, blackness is vast. what if we live inside a world where we thought that blackness was a ca arabs term? just to borrow from hip-hop, that you could be black and something else, and that actually is not a limitation. so, for example, what if being a black president actually meant an expansion as opposed to a contraction of the way that we think about it? so some of, i think, the answer to the question is thinking about those deep-seeded realities and ideologies we take for granted and thinking about a world where we don't have those. and i think for many of us, that
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is very scary. what if we lived in a world where there was a house father, you know, who was a homemaker? we don't even, that scares many people. so some of it i think when we hear revolution, we think about these bolsheviks taking over russia when, in fact, i'm thinking about everyday acts of revolution where we, for example, acknowledge that as black people there are lesbiansing, there are -- lesbians, there are transgender people who are black. [applause] that would be revolutionary to me. so i would also say to keep revolution in context, to think about the conditions and the constraints that we lay over ourselves that actually don't require a meeting with white people. [applause] just the things that black people do to each other. that is revolutionary, perhaps with a lower case r. >> can i say something briefly? i absolutely agree. i also, i'm always concerned about you taupic thinking, and i think oftentimeses we talk about revolution, we have an end in mind, and i'm much more interested this how we practice
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how we engage with each other. so movement is much more interesting to me. and so i was in jackson for the 50th anniversary of freedom summer recently and saw all these extraordinary youth organizations putting together movement, movement that was progressive on -- movements that are progressive on multiple fronts. and i do think that the lesson of sncc, the lesson of both the early and the late movement is that movement allows -- it's not just sort of has the capacity to transform social relations, but can transform internally, right? and transform the sense of internal capacity. so that, i think, is something that moves us somewhere good whether or not, you know, we're focused op what the end exactly -- on what the end exactly will look like. >> uh-huh. next question. >> thank you. question is with the backdrop of baldwin as lovers, is it possible for you guys to expand upon, like, baldwin's black imaginative which gives black
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folks agency and empowerment for political agitation? specifically i'm thinking about that was the question, can you expound upon -- [laughter] how can we empower black people with agency and empowerment? i'm thinking about your book, marcus, where you get, where you talk about duboiselaying the foundational lens for black people being -- [inaudible] and we often think about black people where things happen to them, right? negro -- [inaudible] happen to them. all these other things happen to black people, but you give agency to black people that gives us power for revolutionary, right? and i'm thinking about this more specifically around baldwin's contention between his blackness and his sexuality and his queerness, right? how could like a black/brown queer movement give agency for transformation politically? >> thank you. what we're going to do, with your permission, is to take two questions at a time.
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so we have one excellent question, and we'll take a second one from someone who seems to be wearing a i love columbia law school t-shirt. [laughter] so this better be a really good question. laugh. >> no pressure. thank you. so my question, hopefully it's worthy of my school -- [laughter] is basically, i mean, how do you deal with this? you talked earlier about love and mostly directional love, but how do you deal with love, i guess, masquerading or, i guess, yeah, how it has the opportunity to masquerade as something else? implicit bias masquerading as love? i think of us as a black community, or we in the black community, we love each other more than, i think, ever before. and what that does also a laughs at criticism, that self-reflecting we do more than i think we probably need to, but
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also it allows maybe our politicians to then say in the spirit of love and in the spirit of, you know, trying to improve our nation, we're going to also be very critical and point the finger at us. so when baldwin says that it doesn't take, it doesn't take hatred, it takes a spine, these politicians saying we're going to grow a spine and point the finger at your community in the spirit of love. and i think that is disingenuous, but it kind of also seems to be what we are advocating for, so how do we deal with that? >> and it's certainly happening. i put to you simply the figure of someone a colleague of mine calls our scolder in chief, right? >> right. >> who seems to have taken upon himself a special vocation at almost every opportunity that he's given to speak to a black audience. to emphasize, i would say
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overemphasize, sometimes to point of fiction the failings of the black community, particularly of black men. so that's a very, very good question. panelists? >> well, i'll speak about the agency point. so part of, you know, i'm a sociologist by vocation, and i guess by training as well, and part of what's interesting there is i said earlier at the beginning, at the start of my comments that the black experience can be used as a barometer in these ways, but part of what's interesting is it is often a barometer that doesn't require for you to gather black people and ask them what they think you should do. it's instead here's a policy called urban renewal, let's study some black neighborhoods and see what happened to them. and part of what i think is important and especially if you were a philadelphia negro, harlem, usa, wherever you might
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find yourself that everything that you do, especially your commitment to place, is agency. you are staying somewhere. and that staying has real ramifications on why this city looks the way it does. that is empowering on the same hand that it is also disempowering. because it then means we are responsible in some ways for what we're seeing. you know, the existing paradigm, the great thing about not having black people's agency in it is you can throw your hands up and say look what white racism is doing to us. as imani said earlier, blackness is vast, i can't tell you how many times even in 2014 you go somewhere and who black people are does not include a number of people, you know, single mothers, teenage mothers, you know, adopted kids, wards of the state. there's a very particular black person that we're talking about, and then as black politics or black political actors, we look at white folks and say why aren't y'all being be inclusive? the inclusivity must begin with us. if we're not including the people in this room, how do we
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expect somebody not of us to acknowledge us? it is a very dangerous connection, i think. the agency point is meant to give wave to the idea that where you live and the city that you live in as long as you've been there, you matter, and what you're doing matters. and sort of, i say, like the spider-man sort of uncle ben, with great power comes great responsibility. [laughter] so the idea of the citymaker sounds like, you know, people walking around with cs on their chest, you know? i want this, i'm changing this, i'm doing that. but it comes with great responsibility because when you look at south philadelphia, my neighborhood, which is now no longer 98% black but now 15% black and declining, there is a more complex story that involves what black and white people are doing in the city at the same time. >> if i, if i could jump in really quickly, you know, my -- i work on a university campus be, have to live on a university campus, so i'll tell that story instead of a city ward, but a small campus population. i can't tell you the number of times i've felt the need to talk
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to black and brown students just going to a meeting or something. the narrative comes out, well, students -- other students here basically tell us in many ways large and small we don't belong here. and i get angry every time i hear that. because these students are now buying into a narrative that they did not write that tells them that they don't belong. now, you can take this from a university campus to a city ward to a nation, and i said it's your obligation to tell them that you do. and it's your obligation to not, and to not listen to that and to believe, in fact, you do belong. you got in, after all, so you belong. so you actually -- i mean, this is not to ignore or to let people get off the hook for telling that terrible narrative, but there's also hard work that has to be done by saying, dammit, i do belong, and you can't tell me otherwise. that's, frankly, work that has to happen every single day, and
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can it's not fair -- and it's not fair, but this is the world in which we live. so i think this speaks to a kind of important in this context black agency that black folks also say to everybody white, straight, gay, black, whatever, i belong here. whatever my conflicted ideas are, this is speaking to a capacious blackness or a capacious humanity, i belong here. and we're going to have to work it out. >> what did baldwin say? i have nothing to prove. the world also belongs to me. >> you know, i'd like to respond to the brilliant columbia student -- [laughter] question. see, because for me every time somebody says "love," i get nervous when people talk about love, you know? [laughter] i really do, because i believe in the hallucinatory, you know, qualities of love, you know? i remember, there was 18, this girl was defying gravity, and
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this guy, you know, who just came out of the woods -- i was in vermont, and he saw this girl, and i watched him fall in love with her. now, he didn't know her. he didn't know anything about her except she defied gravity. and he was just like, wow. and the power of his feeling was so strong that she couldn't resist it. it was interesting, you know? they ended up leaving together. i don't think she wanted to go with him, but she couldn't help it because he was so in love with her, you know what i mean? laugh -- [laughter] the idea of love, you know, i know your question was just a little bit different, but i think a lot of people, you know, you always have to kind of question love and where it comes from in you and how you're feeling it, you know, for other people. and, you know, and this is that whole thing, you know, because every time we get back to baldwin, i think about felonious monk, and i can only really think about him when he's playing because other than that it's beyond me. but one of the simple things i
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can do is question what that love is. because you know, like, you know, really, we're black people in america, so we love a lot of white things, a lot of european things for unconscious reasons, not conscious reasons. you have to really interrogate why do i think this, or why do i feel so strongly about this, or why when i think about this am i brought to tears, you know? why should i feel like i should kill people in iraq and afghanistan because of something that happened here and not thinking about what we've been doing forever, you know, to iran, for instance, and to iraq and these other places. i want to say that they once asked me to read for salman rushdie, they said they wanted me to -- i like him, he's a nice guy, but they said we want you to read for him. i said, okay, but listen, first, i need to make a five minute statement apologizing to the country of iran for what we have done to them for so many years. [applause] and they said, you can't do that. and i said, why not? you know, because it's a white
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organization, they think they're not, but they are. even -- well, anyway. i said, i said why not? they said, because we're a writers' organization. we don't represent all those people who got tortured in those basements. we represent writers. and i said, okay, fuck you, i ain't gonna read. [laughter] but, you know, we have all these feelings, you know? andst the really -- and it's really important to question our love and our being loved and how it works and what impact it has, you know? i think it's a lower level from what we're talking about, but i think it's really important. >> two questions. >> all right. i'm going to be really quick. i'm piggybacking on the wonderful student from columbia, he had james baldwin's book on his back, so i borrowed it to get back to the love. if we and now i mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks who must like lovers insist on or create the consciousness of
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the others, to not falter in our -- do not falter in our duty now, we may be able handful that we are to end the racial nightmare and achieve our country and change the history of the world if we do not now endear everything, the full facilitiment of that -- fulfillment of that prophesy is upon us. god gave noah the rainbow sign. no more water, the fire next time. that is from "the fire next time." my question very briefly is, what are active things that we can do as human beings going out into this world to help bring back the love or some type of solutions? and i want to start with the historian. [laughter] and i'm charles reese, by the way. you can handle it. >> did i mention i'm also in american studies and african-american studies? okay. i mean, i'll go back to what i said before, what proactive thing can we do?
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find ways to get our children to turn off the screens and read books. now, i know we're a visual culture, i mean, i might have just caused some pain to my friend at the end, but i think reading is fundamental. so start there. that's my one -- i have to do one, just one, right? >> sex is fundamental. [laughter] i don't have to convince kids to have sex. i mean, really, come on now. i mean, honestly, i mean, we live here, right? you know, i mean, it's like it's not gonna happen. ..
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the passionate about knowing the value of what you do. now, i know you believe that it can be done. let me tell you why. because of was socrates did. socrates brought together, yes he did, socrates brought together a disparate group of people in l.a. for thursday night tenors and he can bring in el a gang youth become a carpenter from mexico, l.a. african american lawyer thought with some gumbo we can do the same thing here in new york,
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harlem, brooklyn with the boys and get them reading. i would like to ask you to help me to do it because it is urgent >> that is a challenge. >> all right. >> it is a challenge that could only have been thrown down here. it is a challenge not simply to those of us who are sitting here on the stage, but to each and every one of you in this room because you are all stakeholders in this community, however you match in the community. the sister is certainly not leaving. i would invite you to join me as we began that close discussion conversations. >> i can put you in touch with the person who organizes book clubs through -- >> that's very practical. i have that easy e-mail address.
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i'm not going to say it out in public year, but anybody even knows me i can give you the information. >> i -- this has been a wonderful conversation. it has been my privilege to share and with these extraordinary folks. let's conclude this part of our time together by formally acknowledging and thanking them for their generosity. [applause] again, map promised to rich and all of the sponsors of the book fair. we will see you again next year. thank you. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] of. [inaudible conversations] >> we will have more from the harlem book fair in about ten minutes. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> book tv is on facebook. like us to interact with book tv guests and viewers, watch videos, and get up-to-date information on events. >> book tv asks, what are you reading this summer?
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>> well, i am looking ahead because we have the first in the nation caucus. iowa has made a recommendation to new hampshire, south carolina along the arrest of the country. i have been involved in that process for a number of cycles. the want to make sure they have the considered judgment of a couple of dollars on the topic. one of them is grassroots written by dr. chris hall who happens to be my chief of staff. i want to poke through that carefully in analyze the intense studies and probably verbally challenge a little bit about any of the conclusions and see how that fits with what i know in my experience and working with the presidential caucuses. and then also caucus chaos, a new book written by dave price. dave is a journalist and a reporter for the television station in the morning. he has really paid a lot of focus of this and interviewed a
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lot of the players who are involved in the iowa caucus. it is new. i want to read both of those periods and this is the first year we have been able to celebrate the placement says. statuary hall in the united states capitol building. born 100 years ago. happens that there is a work on my table called my daily bread that writes the story. what he did in his life was he saw poverty during the great depression in the 30's, decided he wanted to do something about it. so he went to work. sent to mexico and started working with different wheat strains. and on those that he selected he selected the disease resistant, rust resistant, light resistance and through his work in mexico could not raise enough food to feed themselves and a matter of
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13 years to reverse that to where mexico had a surplus of food that they were raising. and there was also another book that is written by ambassador who put together, i had the privilege to know. an illustrated story about the life who is credited with saving the life. and after his success in mexico he went to asia, pakistan, india and in different countries. africa and began to continue to develop and improve the production of wheat, rice, and other products. in a matter of 30 years is worth more than doubled the grain production in the world. because of that the people are saved from starvation, and it
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says so on a statue in statuary hall was replaced on reduced to the day. within 10 feet of the author of the book, ambassador standing with congressman life and when they presented the congressional . and i was standing about 10 feet from ambassador quinn and congressman lay from talking to dr. borlaug. as i am talking to him i got the idea that we should place the statue there. i know what he thought at the time. i stepped away from that meeting in new went to work to see what it takes to approve the statute coming in one bill and placed in the united states capitol walking away from the circle of inspiration from this great, great man. now learned a few years later on the morning and replace the statute that congressman life and an ambassador quinn or having a discussion about facing the statute. so whether it was providence,
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happenstance, serendipity, we all got the same signal. we were standing within 10 feet of where a statue stands today. want to give up to speed on two things, celebrating the second century of his birth and also up to speed on the caucus rules and the caucus chaos. i imagine we will have a going forward in the next two years in iowa. >> what are you reading this summer? tell us what is on your summer reading list. posted to our facebook page or send us an e-mail. live coverage of the 2014 harlem book fair back in just a few minutes.
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>> here is a look at some book fares and festivals happening around the country. this weekend includes the annual free avestan loss vegas, a libertarian conference halls of the discussions and debates on a wide variety of political topics.
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flew. >> one of the books that i just started that will be finishing in the next few weeks is the big burn. anti walked through some history of the creation of the national forest. it is always good to know your history when you're on a committee like energy and natural resources. a great story about teddy roosevelt and the big fire of 1910. hopefully lessons. >> anything else? >> i am also reading -- looking forward to reading a book called the nuclear age. it is a book by senator jack reed -- the senator jack reed gave to me when i came to the senate. been putting an offer to lot. always had an interest in mexico's history and our role in the nuclear deterrent looking forward at this very changing
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post cold war landscape of regional nuclear power. what does that mean for our policy? and hopefully some answers along the way as well. >> what are you reading this summer? tell us what is on your summer reading list, tweet us. posted to our facebook page. send us an e-mail. >> this week book tv takes a look at the weekly standard online bookshelf to see what that publication is recommending. on the shelf this week is turns cathedral, a count of the digital revolution following world war ii as well as the great war and james calls cultural history of the self portrait. the weekly standard also recommends stanley panza said -- the spanish civil war. a complex political history. former first lady louisa
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catherine adams diary excerpts and memories from our early years on the shelf as is the metamorphosis of fat in which george fiorello maps the evolution of western ideas about obese people, paying particular attention to the role of science and public health campaigns. also a selection of essays and an idea whose time has come, the political battle to pass the civil rights act of 1964. finally, the weekly standard online bookshelf as jay ridley's pyrography and charles murray's the curmudgeon guide to getting ahead. to see the full list visit weekly standard dot com / put stuff. >> the next panel from the 2014 harlem book fair takes a look at the black arts movement. >> welcome back here to the
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harlem book fair. my name is anthony kneele. i am the moderator for your next panel. the panel is the new urban aesthetic, the black arts movement in which we are going have a conversation to talk about the connections between the black arts movement and what we've seen now has new forms of urban a static. i am joined to my right to my colleague who is doing double duty today. professor from princeton university. to her right we have barstow, the author of pure bronx, but she wrote with the historian. to her right we have mr. june archer who wrote the book yes everything can be a good thing. >> the adventures of the untouchables, illustrator. at the far end we have mr.
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mr. anthony wright had published a book of love to die, a piece of what some folks might describe as urban fiction or st. fiction. real talked about the complications of that as we go this afternoon. >> thank you. >> one of the things it is interesting about this panel, any number of people even in this room as i sit here and look at sonya sanchez to can describe what the black arts movement was about who were there in the room what makes this panel unique is none of us were in the room. and so it becomes an interesting vantage point to talk about with the legacy of the black arts movement is for people who may not necessarily be engaged in the black arts movement the way that we understand it historic we but have taken examples from the black arts movement in their own work both in terms of content but also in terms of
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context and also in terms of form. and of the things i want to start with this task all the panelists about what your sense is of the impact and the legacy of the black arts movement on the work you do has riders mon-khmer illustrators, creative artists in general. >> well, good afternoon. back in the day i love someone who was doing a show, maybe some of you have seen or heard of it. the main character in the show -- been doing her research to tell me, anthony, your writing hip-hop literature, which is great. she said did you know the blanks and used it jazzed poetry? that was news to me.
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a researched it and realize that jazz renaissance was begging the time, but langston hughes was doing his thing here. hip-hop music is big now. there is some kind of correlation between this work and my work historic the speaking. but to use the music of the time, the rhythm of to be the backdrop of his lines. so in saying that my dialogue meaning he iconic expression of rappers or a use for my character know, it's colloquial. communicator. it is young, fresh command for the kids. a lot of kids get into where the
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parents want to. they're is a correlation between jazz poetry and hit pop literature, the rhythm. >> i want to stay on the for a second. when you think about some of the black arts poets weather were talking about john hadley, professor sanchez, they were all conscious of writing poetry that would resonate for young folks. talked about writing poetry that literally you could hear on the dance floor. some of the rhythm and cadence of of the paul's or rhythm team coverage more calculated to be able sonically connect with ten people. >> that becomes an interesting kind of way. almost reminds me were the previous panel talked about these. we don't even accept it exists. of these young hip-hop artists tapping and a finding ways to connect with him folks, of course, is about the
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multicultural contemporary bronx thus just own up to the fact that the bronx mean the home of hip-hop, the boogie down as we refer to it. what does the black arts movement look like in terms of the legacy in the bronx 40 years , 50 years after that moment that we all celebrate. >> it is really in attention to vernacular, and attention to here in the streets, to being inspired by walking along streets, to listening to our conversations are formed. and it just really trying here. he was my co-author, a also started the bronx african-american chorister project. that was also really in fused in
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terms of its the way we thought about the book. i was thinking about oral history, and for me that's the work of sanchez, even before that someone like gwendolyn brooks. >> i'll look at the work that's been going on, some of this available on video now, the historian who grew up in the bronx, went to mars high-school in the bronx, for someone like yourself your working outside of a literary context. this is a conversation that came up in an earlier panel. what to is the black arts a static look like in terms of where you're working. >> i think anthony touched on a good point.
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>> was creating characters. i'm kind of known. he had 10,000 characters. so what he said about the rhythm from the blues there to the hip hop era, when i write a work in about. so the weather are writing or a drawing, it's always of the rhythm of that. of course some going aggregate a lot toward pop. begat tmz preconceived a lineage . so i would look at them as the poet with writers that i'm really researching from properly late 70's when i was born in to 80's, 90's, so one. i look at their story. one story that the right crowd to become a controlled me and makes me want to go and create the art.
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so you know when people come up to you and say that that means the really kind of sing i'm i wanna buy that. to me when you're looking at that we try to make the illustration speak for itself. it as a literary form. i had one page and the source, one or two pages. recon came up to me one time was like you're the reason i get the source. he was like nobody's talking about a. all right. but i did it because he wrote this attack the correlation for me was you of a song. grabs you and motivates you. it takes each of the next level. sort think harmelin is a mecca. the bronx. that infusion is really the support. confusion comes from that.
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like an extension of that. >> what is the legacy of the black arts required for you? >> well, you want to touch on the hip hop aspect, from the riding them my book was a matter of breaking down barriers. in some mail driven. one thing that we have done so far away from is saying that i love you to one another, giving each other a hard. in my book a kind of create up to it is for us as in man and man of colors to break those barriers and say it's okay their embrace your brother when he seemed. he's holding himself. he gave him are really tight hug why shouldn't we? regards so far away from that he turned a break those things down. you can still be a pop and be
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loved. >> let me ask you a slightly different question. and we think about the black arts movement it's very hard are difficult to detach that away from what was happening politically at that particular moment. and for many of bus bar introduction to the black arts movement is solely in the context of a political movement. political poetry, stuff that could be uttered in public that he could not here. if we think about the rhetoric of malcolm x in a particular moment and the black panther party in last of the reason esthetically in the work, lake gwendolyn brooks, those kind of folks, is there a way for us to talk about the black arts movement outside of the content? was there and a static form around the black arts movement that was just as important?
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and let me tell you where i get this from. elizabeth alexander was named as the inaugural poet. the new york times to along interview with her shortly before the inauguration, it's always about the sociological realities but can't represented in the content of the poetry. but there's also a form. as a black form it takes place. so what does that look like in terms of the black arts? >> in no, this is that -- the point that you ended with this part of why i even wrote the process making the argument that there's something going on aesthetically. there's a part where people just reduced have popped a sociological conditions and not just that but because they do this. recognizing what is happening. but i think i'm quite skeptical
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of the desire to turn away from the political content just because everything has political content. some of it is not explicit but it all has political content. for me the significance of the black arts movement for cultural production subsequently for african-american studies as enormous and part because what happens is that there is this kind of explicit content with the encounter with urban space. urban spaces are always cosmopolitan spaces. a report coming. there are now beginning economic landscape, climate, technology, the dream of migrating weather is margaret in north or to the urban south of the midwest, the dream and its referral. so that political moment, that artistic and creative moment is really talking about the work of the intersection of all those
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forces. it opens up space for a black cultural studies, for this idea that there are things we ought to the draw, and a static foundation that can be taken of various kinds of expression that comes out of language and movement. of this negotiation between the vernacular and the explicitly artistic. but think for me in particular i was born in 1972. the album and my home, the poetry of rooms, the music, and this kind of emersion into the celebration of black embodiment. so we usually talk about in the academy, but we talk about black consciousness, the transformer power of the celebration of black experience in the body. so i don't want to -- so there
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is this a static to mention, but i don't want to separate it from the politics. bubbled and courageous and climbing the politics were so often particularly western art does not claim the politics. >> zero one to ask a broad question. but this question. if we think about the movement, what was the sound of that? and in what ways has hip-hop tapped into that has an ongoing legacy? because there's a way, john morgan did this wonderful review of ice cube's america's most wanted. and without even talking about the content of rescues music which at least at that time was pretty explicitly political she said this sounds like a warrior music, and she was talking about the production.
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even when you listen to doctor draper as problematic as politics might have been, there was something in surgeon about the sound of what was coming out of california in terms of the sound of a gangster rap. can you talk about that a little bit? >> jim. i always feel that we carry, i think, every individual, every person, every unit carries a certain rhythm. we walk in a certain style, a certain rhythm, we run with a certain rhythm, we do it at our pace. i think with in writing, poetry the month even short story, in the instance of creative writing -- now we get into the blood flow. i always think the sound is the sound of your heartbeat. it's something like -- and you
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can check your heart beats sometimes can almost feel the rhythm coming out on the paper to on to your computer. you feel it. i experienced that all the time, whether are writing a short statement for an essay or poetry and usually i write a law. so i feel the. it has always been a pauper me. and i go way back. i'll listen to his chance. i say the same thing. those are warrior chance. as an out i'm begging you for something. and going to take this. economy qc hawaiian. it's more explosive than there is no holding back. you can't tame it. you have to let it out. you have to let it our raw.
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so rescue saw that, america's most wanted, that was and lyrically he was at his peak. so i think the rhythm is extends to our riding in, torre dancing came. it carries us through. and sort of, it's like a wave the ride on. so he either go and hide or you go in real low, but you're going >> there was an interesting feature where no one had met mr. mr. baldwin except for walter mosley. but when you think about a black arts figure, he was a man of the people in the kind of way that literally you could be walking down the street in new work and he would be there. saw not going to start with my conversation. literally almost everybody in the room probably a sad one of
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those moments. but i did have the opportunity to interview him for about an hour and half around the time of spike lee, malcolm x. in one thing that he said to me that a state with me a long time was this idea that for all the money that was being spent for in his opinion was a bastardized version of miramax that it would be better for folks to some of 20 seats in the basement arouses and do community-based are. and that always stuck with me. particularly as we have been watching all losses that we have been watching a over these last 18 months the idea of independent black institutions as one of the lasting legacies of the black arts movement because they could not cope to mainstream publishing houses and get this stuff published. there were no black studies programs as we know what that can subsidize black scholarship in that kind of weight.
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most folks don't know about the institute of the black world. vincent harding in folks of that nature. so particularly for all of you on this panel who have done work in terms of more traditional media, how important as a panda see yourself as independent artists with the capability to produce your work independently outside a major publishing houses what power as the internet provided in terms of being able to do that kind of work canal important for us at this moment has there is so much pressure for us to take our talent to him as nbc or fox news or espn and a place like that, how important is it to continue to cultivate the idea of maintaining independent black institutions. >> for me it has been -- i still am currently in the music business. of bin innocents 95. i know how the machine works.
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kind taking everything that i have learned from the machine and bringing it to an independent stand point. we love so much humanistic, organic behavior because we are leaning on technologies instead of going out and shaking hands and attending programs like the harlem book for because they're trying to hide behind the technology. we will find success when you start saying, i have a book out. these and the things that brought me to the point of writing. i think as we get back to a instead of using social networking, shaking hands, were going to high-things, but for me it's been the have to touch the people. for the people to embrace what is he giving them from an independent stand point you have to go out there and really do the footwork. it's easy to send a facebook message our poster of tweet.
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but and so they're actually able to touch it or understand why you wrote these things be, want to know the fabric of what makes you who you were. we lose just of the world because we are doing when need to do. independently it makes sense. if he thrown out there for monitors some point it is lost in translation most the time. i think that's what's happening in the music business. for events like this it is important to be mocks the people so much style lock. >> i would send an from head of some point it's a battle culture. so when you look at how i was brought into it at an early age, i got into graph on the trains. in and, of course, your comments , unlike what is that, i need to be a part of a.
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at the same point of why was there? any find out that there was no element supporting it. i was in the neighborhood, the playground is always broken. no basketball room on the basketball court. there's no support. you get some crazy neighbor and everything. cabane downtown brooklyn. you know, new york's service is a lot of different neighborhoods . but hip-hop draws you in no way where it's a necessity, being a part of something and just as energy and fire. it's a battle culture, and you have to do it live, so you really can't hide behind. you can promote it, and there are a lot of guts of the he said it is in that. as much as i get in the corporate, it always comes back to if you're going to have teeth in the game year-and-a-half to
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finance it. it's just taken away from you. the no less -- in your swimming with sharks there were coming back to the culture of doing in life. i feel more blast when i'm doing something live. seeing it in real life, that's different. you know, i always encourage capstan battle cipher or breakdowns because as live. there again going back to reinforce that, you have to experience it as a family. and then that a policy go do something. and it's a struggle. it ain't easy. some days i have nine people have to pay and some days i have three. it fluctuates. and then there's times we have no more money. lighter why keep doing this? the energy. in the picture back up. >> love of want to say about the revolution, it still has to be
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financed. one of the folks who has carried on the legacy of the black arts movement, particularly in a pop, check the pds this great land about the need of rock booze or and the boulevard. reno what rock and the boulevards like. less talk a moment about rocking the bins. in particular one of the places where the black arts movement has continued to be vital is academia and particularly in terms of black studies. the have the opportunity to work. for those of you don't know mark, part of it is that he has been this amazing historian of both labor history but the history of the bronx. for those folks who don't know the historian, they know him as the white guy that was on dave ship else did. if you remember he was described as a black studies professor.
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so what does it look like to be able to continue into the work around the black arts movement in the academy and particularly around this idea if. all those folks who were doing the groundwork in the late fifties and early 60's and where blossoms, their idea was never that the stuff would go into places like duke or princeton prostitutes prices and students to come out of families and work the quarter of a million dollars. how do we post to the work that is educationally still true to what the vision was of the black arts movement in terms of the educational project but to that in spaces that both devalued during that kind of work and devalued the very narratives' the represented. >> actually want to combine that your previous question with this question. one of the important legacies of the black arts movement,
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creating communities the first people were doing workshops. it's incredibly important because writing, it's something that you only do by yourself. it's a collaborative pact. you need editors, feedback. nobody puts out a book, anything that is fully their work. i think that this subtenant can be seen in african-american studies department. people like alexander and other professors or very influenced,
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especially when there were not necessarily spaces. that's also created for us in that department, we really value the history of our department. we value the struggle does come before us. i kaynine. does not come happen. does not go fly. we're very overprotected of our department. so that kind of community building. in his seat and other things.
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>> exec and. >> sewn just a start answering the question, one thing that's important, in the midst of a black arm movement and political movement they're is a steep commitment to analyze short. we see this as a precursor to the renaissance. really extraordinary a literal production. in some it makes sense that universities become, to a certain extent, places the embrace much of this work. there is pressure from universities in general. there's pressure after the movements of the politicize laxatives, to do politicize everything.
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so there is this pressure to move. a perfect example because the assumption of african-american studies is so deeply connected the movements, the panther trials. so this pressure system is a this work is just an election will, not connected to is live in communities. that becomes a complicated tension because, of course, the work is not a political. it's a political work. how to navigate and and also not suffer under more of the generals all which is generally true in. one of the things that has happened is the bifurcation is, elite institutions are investing in black studies. it's under assault everywhere. and so this question of institutions is complicated. how much to invest in maintaining institutions and on
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the mainstream places because we know this work is not just intellectually of value as the potential to transform people who value it which has some purpose persons choosing other kinds of institutional formations that we need to create an actor. the challenge is the answer the question in your work. you have some sense of responsibility. that absence of social responsibility is at the core of the very in a price. >> but that instead interesting question about the work itself and to the work reaches. you know, on the one hand we know what some of our classrooms look like. nunn and in no are run agree the difficulty of getting students who look like us in the some of those glasses. were looking and for all kinds of reasons, black and latino
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students, and it talk about this a great deal in. they don't see how taking a class in black studies or women's studies are latino studies would have the is going to make them a better lawyer ironically them. in some cases at the same time we also are looking at a generation -- were talking about a small population the folks who make it to college. what are we doing with the cats on the corner. what exactly do they know about the black arts movement let alone legacy. added they connected this is no listening london. and in one of the things is but did was give 14, a 15 year old guys reading. they wanted to here.
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but it created a different context for him to be able to read. so now we take the legacy of the black arts movement and translate that to these audiences that are not going to be sitting in the 185 section of the library trying to piece together this history. >> i think it's a wonderful question. nafta approach the question with a certain degree of humility. it's not always the ones are quick to do that work. but i think democratize and access to information and knowledge this part of the responsibility. that can take different forms. beckon to reforms in terms of community organization, writing the kind of running windows,
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mentoring, actually supporting organizations that are already doing network and actually standing in the back. can i provide this from pe on campus. think all kinds of resources. in a pair of free will the come here. but i also think it requires a kind of humility that oftentimes people don't have. >> at think we need to create those platforms and have a dialogue even when those who are empowered to what you make it happen. we've got so used to people saying know that we don't created ourselves. if you look back years ago, we were just talking about it, there was a time and end people are on their soapbox talking in creating. we have to get back to having dialogue. the book was great because it
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gave a platform work is the lessons and pop, i don't think they understood. it was just a book about him selling drugs. it was an arc history book. it created a platform. the need have someone come back in. let's discuss this in a sense for let me break it down for user you are looking at it from the standpoint of his drug dealer don goode in alleys talking about the -- less talk about the journey and a grove and hal let's put it in a sense where they can take it. >> it's interesting you mention it. it going back for a moment, most folks did not know the reference is a graphic novel. and given the kind of work they you do, my youngest daughter, what cut her interested in reading was to present her with
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graphic novels. talk a little bit about how just thinking about the literature and and literacy and very different kind of ways to open a book or open an ipod, ipad and rated, how we can think about other platforms of which to engage these influences by graphic novels are, these. >> graphic novels are similar to rhyme's a you will hear. there were reading 78 books i might get half the book in the summer. the of it. updated. why use a college? gonna start giving him books, loving to read. and he was like him. specifically bless you ever created to literally.
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the answer bridge. there's a gap. so with his book, i think what you do is find a way to get them interested. it opens up another level or a tunnel to get you through that. graphic novels. eris on. everyone deciphers. it was funny. we do those statistics for stuff we're doing the little house wines, white americans, about 50 million. they always in the ." and you know, so when the culture, so into hip-hop the we really have trouble understanding it. it's universal. people decipher runs.
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they're bridging themselves to learn more. i guess they're also figuring out there other things. no, i learned. they came. and i used to be in front of us heebie-jeebies. so you see this other culture, but you get interested in and start opening the books. desert figuring things out. you're saying also, it becomes a bridge. graphic novels are visual bridge to get into the story. especially when you go in, there are talking the language. every show. there are into that. a steady it. the key government. apple, you know, we call clause of nerds. had the normal stuff tonight well, i started from marine
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accident. for real? and a half of this of the universe. tracinda of the things. at 22 you start valuing education. >> was one of the things that's interesting going back to the legacy of the black arts movement, particularly around the sunday. when you think about some of the jazz musicians were engaged, they decided there were going to get rid of boundaries. in the look of some of the black arts poetry and the way they laid out their words on page to my very nonlinear, non-traditional ways. when you think about the music of colman or under the terms of how they're breaking up the notion of form it makes me wonder ways -- if there are ways in which we have no knowledge of the freedom that the black art movement in the house in terms of creativity we are actually seeing played out in genres and styles that are far removed from
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obviously the black arts movement but even black people. >> a was a good question. >> one of the @booktv -- plagiarism in writing. will we do is formulate things that are great. in atlanta tried to do something that doesn't work. is not going to yell. he tried. maybe it will fit, but you can adapt. a variation of that. now you're in a hybrid situation. he almost create the inspired. >> every time i here, can someone the knowledge she just sounds like salt and pepper. >> and most of the folks in
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decker can ignore some. >> this sounds like a few. the bar of the cadence planarian will get it. only because a reminds me. so i did. her respect affected see -- levers writing a rhymes tried to make sure the bridge that gap. any talk about the kind of political autonomy of black creativity and tens of just asking the question about how many sculptors, writers, painters, musicians created in the 1950's listening you know, i
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was inspired to do this culture. but miles davis was there in the room. pick creativity, and there's no way not to think that inspired the same compact when you think about the kind of in-your-face strategy that came of the black arts movement how much of that can we translate to a political movement, everything from occupy wall street and to various things of eocene play out of the last 25 1/3 years. >> the movement, i think about those going to visit him. i think about all those connections. exactly when you think about the context, none of this happen in a vacuum.
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talking to the chicano students and back-and-forth in getting ideas for which other. that's what made some of those movements richer. that exchange. as the same thing with the pump. that exchange is what created it and also what keeps it lively. it's interesting. my entrance into urban fiction is through listening to spanish-language epo. and allison to latino hip-hop. and allison -- went back assert going to a 1990's and 80's and learning. and then i start paying attention to urban fiction it's infused with spanish and characters from all over. and so all of that is really important to consider when talking about the black arts movement. >> but i want to ask a question or a lease go out, the idea of thinking about the black arts movement in a technological context. ..
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there's a whole host of things you can't do the least of which is being able to watch netflix. you know and when we deal with reality for them since the majority people of color particularly of african descent in this country access information on mobile devices. so if you can think for a moment about filling out a job application on your phone as
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opposed to being someplace on a laptop with quality broadband. so a colleague of mine going back to the institute of the black world has really been on this whole idea about us being able to control access. where i will just call for the moment digital nationalism. where's the movement where we are creating our own servers and owning our own servers? all the information we have now we are sharing with facebook and twitter. we don't own those servers. that's property that we don't own. we have been able to use it in particular kinds of ways towards powers that but when all is said and done we give it to the nsa etc. etc. we have no way to push back on that. >> even if we owned it the nsa is going to get it. >> real talk, real talk. >> and i think we can press that point in some other other directions too to think about this question of access but
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there's also the question of what we encounter what technology is substandard lan access to learning how to code and also at the same time some of the most interesting innovative creative things that are being done in the digital arena are being done by communities of color globally rated so often the cutting edges resourcefulness and so it all makes me think one there is this kind of surveillance and the other is this issue that has to do with capital. it seems to me we should all be having this conversation in the power that goes along with a concentration of capital and with the inequitable distribution of capital. so for example when we pose this question about cultural property really what is at issue is not who owns culture. culture is always permission but who makes money off of it. that's her issue in their seems
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to be, we are stuck in this pattern that people are always on the cutting-edge of the creative production seem to continuously with this very narrow few exceptions to be the ones who have been broken at the end of the day. so to me the question is not simply just to create more corporations but actually to think about what is the vision for a kind of political vision. so for example people talk about net neutrality but don't think, don't push the conversation further to think about what would public access to the internet actually look like, like truly public access. what would it look like to not have all of these things run by corporations and i do think people would like to see the black arts movement push a more revolutionary imagination at least in these institutions. >> anybody else want to jump in
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on that? >> so i love her comment. she takes it in a different way and you're like all code that's another another thought in the other that and another that. but are we just saying to create the server that will control the true art of the black culture or monetization? >> alternately what i was trying to suggest is that it's about when we create this work right, are we able to claim it as ourselves and the youtube and the digital space. i will get the youtube example. you can give beyoncé credit for when she was pressed she would own up to where her influences are but this is someone who is digging deep into the archive that youtube has presented to her and representing that out into the world. we know the long history of
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people of color not being paid for what they produce and then going on to produce stuff. talking about the chess brothers with relationship to muddy waters and those folks. talking about berry gordy in relationship to the black audience. but you know as we get to this particular moment and we are in fact bringing and energy to the digital enterprise it's changing how the digital enterprise functions. with that black folks use twitter has changed how twitter does its business. one example, at what point do we take an accounting that's not just about money but of the spirit of innovation we bring to the enterprise that make sure that innovation and experience goes back to be able to feed folks behind us with that same spirit and innovation and creativity. >> i think it's definitely a great new frontier.
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as i find we are trying to -- we talked to lineal aunt lena was open to do a deal. we said where's the backend for us and in our place so guys came back for us because it's a lot more i feel a lot more -- than any deal because there are so many traps in it. there are so many things. they have for example they run gameplay inside of the game inside of the game. if you're running a show the industry game is in the gameplay and there are 20 ads that they are getting money. so you have to have your own digital space and the storefront and the other interesting thing we were in kind of like a bored conference meeting about apps and apps and web sites. you can control your own pushes but also everybody at first was like well i don't know if i trust starbucks with my credit card and i don't really care.
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what it is that your phone is your new web sites of the app is your web site in the app is your story. to have as much control of your own independent so i feel like we have studied a lot for three years to say lets comptroller on the web site and comptroller app into a partnership to make sure the wording is -- because they are very devilish. because you have so much open space and they're throwing everything out there. that's really what has been happening with the conglomerates of media. they are buying up things and they things and they are our cost platforms and whether it's archived or whether like you said when beyoncé is throwing something out. she is already rich so she's looking at a situation as a person and as her own empowerment and business. you can overlook things because your rv rich so how much money do you need but in actuality


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